Determined to embrace positive management practice change, Kale and Karin Robinson, of Hillsborough Station, are working to improve pasture on their Ravenswood grazing property to achieve a sustainable and profitable enterprise.
Since taking over the property two years ago, the Robinson’s are improving pasture by using grass budgeting to match stocking rates to available forage, spelling paddocks, improving stock access to water points, fencing off gullies to stop animal impact and erosion, and improving tracks.
These projects are being delivered by NQ Dry Tropics through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust Program. It’s early days, but Mr Robinson said he expected that over time pasture would not only improve but also result in better soil structure with less water run-off and less erosion.
“Straddling the Leichhardt Range, the property is narrow and long, more than 40km, which poses a number of challenges including getting cattle to graze more evenly, and to access water points easily, while managing a large number of gullies,” Mr Robinson said.
“With the help of NQ Dry Tropics, efforts are focussed on ensuring grazing pressure is kept to such a level that we find ways to mitigate erosion, especially around gullies.
“We’re reinstating the use of water points and lick troughs through the range country to spread grazing pressure away from the frontage country. This is being managed under a rotational spelling plan.
“We’re also reforming the tracks and installing whoa bouys to stop active gully erosion on these tracks, and to return water to the grassed areas through sheet flow.
“Removing water flow from the track should see less sediment loss and we’ll also be able to better manage grazing distribution across these paddocks.
“We have also constructed silt traps strategically down the length of a couple of gullies to reduce further extension of these gullies. If they work well, we’ll look at replicating this at other gullies,” he said.
NQ Dry Tropics Paddock to Reef project officer Jade Fraser said land management methods trialled on the property would be monitored to measure the on-ground change in land management practices. He said this was one of the key components of the Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program (Paddock to Reef program).
The aim of Paddock to Reef is to measure and report progress towards the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan’s goal and targets through annual report cards which is a key action under the plan.
“This allows assessments of how Reef Water Quality Protection Plan initiatives can improve reef health in the long term,” Mr Fraser said.
“The Queensland and Australian governments have established ambitious targets to improve water quality to the Great Barrier Reef.
“Changing management practice can be a long and complex process that requires new or expanded knowledge and skills, and sometimes significant capital investment.
“Therefore the focus for NQ Dry Tropics has been on building capacity through extension programs that will increase the rate of adoption of improved land management practices in coming years.
“Projects and activities carried out on Hillsborough Station and other properties, provides on-ground evidence of water quality improvements from different land management practices.
“And this is a win for the landholder, the grazing industry and the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.
Main photo: Burdekin graziers Kale and Karin Robinson, of Hillsborough Station, with youngest son Jake.