Holistic management workshop inspires North Queensland graziers

With the Big Dry showing no sign of ending anytime soon, an increasing number of graziers are looking at ways to better maintain good levels of pasture and to make their businesses more resilient.

NQ Dry Tropics has been working with some of these graziers to trial the Holistic Management approach to managing their business and their land, and the excellent results achieved so far have certainly set tongues wagging among property owners in North Queensland.

So it was no surprise that nearly 25 graziers, representing 13 North Queensland properties, attended last Friday’s Managing Grazing Holistically – An Introduction event at Balfe’s Creek, 40km west of Charters Towers. The workshop, organised by NQ Dry Tropics, was supported by funding from the Australian Government Reef Programme, that is reducing the impacts of agriculture on the Great Barrier Reef.

Certified Holistic Management educator Brian Wehlburg, of Inside Outside Management said: “Holistic Management is a decision-making framework that ensures your decisions are economically, environmentally and socially sound and enables you to develop a clear vision for the future you want”.

At the workshop, Brian presented on the basic cornerstones of Holistic Management – and attendees liked what they heard.

Stephen Lawrie from Powlathanga Station at Balfe Creek said: “It was nice to have a day where we focus on what we can do instead of what we shouldn’t do.”

Caleb Lang from Red Hill Station at Mingela said: “Holistic Management has shown me ways of using animals as a tool to implement earthworks and improve infiltration through managed, short bursts of high impact.”

Ross Webb from The Bluff Station at Charters Towers said: “I learned how much, in terms of ecosystem services, a well-functioning ecosystem provides for free. We are a lucky industry in that respect.”

Mick Alexander, director of Grazing Best Practice (GBP) was the other presenter. He spoke about how to improve infiltration and avoid runoff and also how to evenly graze a paddock to avoid patch grazing effects and stands of under-utilised rank grass.

He said: “There is not much rainfall getting around so we have to store it in the soil by maintaining good ground cover, and not let it evaporate back to the atmosphere where plants cannot utilise it”.

Dr Scott Crawford, CEO of NQ Dry Tropics, said that due to the increased interest in Holistic Management, NQ Dry Tropics has organised a new training program for up to 20 businesses across the Burdekin region.

“Representatives from nine properties met for two days at Charters Towers last week to commence the program, and participants at Friday’s  Balfes Creek workshop will be offered the opportunity to join the training program”, he said.

The Basic Cornerstones of Practicing Holistic Management
Make a Healthy Profit with Holistic Financial Planning
  • Plan for and produce a profit
  • Determine what enterprises to run
  • Know what to spend money on and when
  • Determine the best investment strategies for business growth and resource productivity
Increase Land and Animal Health and Productivity with Holistic Grazing Planning
  • Simultaneously maximize stocking rate and improve land health and productivity
  • Use livestock to improve the health of land and increase profit
  • Coordinate three primary land management tools (rest, grazing, animal impact) to grow more pasture
  • Maximize the harvest of sunlight by managing stocking rate, time, stock density and herd effect
  • Make the best plan for the season ahead to reduce your stress
Design the Ideal Property Plan with Holistic Land Planning
  • Design infrastructure and land development to reduce input costs and increase profit
  • Design a land plan that provides good return on investment
  • Integrate financial planning and production planning to determine the order and timing of infrastructure development
Assess Land Health and Productivity with Holistic Biological Monitoring
  • Use simple and effective monitoring techniques
  • Cultivate an awareness of the four ecosystem processes
  • Predict changes and trends on the land so you can respond to them effectively
  • Monitor plant growth rates, water and mineral cycle effectiveness and unfavorable use patterns
  • Monitor the land’s performance along with animal performance
  • Analyze what you see on the ground
  • Learn criteria to monitor that will give the earliest warnings of adverse change