NSF and Stocking Rates

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Mike Hart
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Bendemeer NSW

NSF and Stocking Rates

Post by Mike Hart » Sat Nov 14, 2009 9:09 pm

I would be interested to hear from Peter or others about whether or not they have been able to lift carrying capacity on their pastures as a result of improved pasture growth (management) and hydrology.

I read the articles by Salatin and (Savory et al )re Ultra High Density Grazing in Africa and the US. A the Salatins are in the Shenandoah Valley where the average rainfall is @33 in per annum (Dry by US standards) there is a passable climatic comparison.

It would appear to me to be a natural fit as the UHD stock rates result in less discrimination or selective grazing and appear to result in increased grass and plant diversity. The literature appears to indicate however the difficulty of overcoming the lack of naturally occurring legumes in Australia and of establishing such plants in pastures, but I somehow think that wattles did this job once and are now regarded as a pest in my area and the idiots cut them out whenever and where ever they can.

Anyhow any thoughts or contributions welcome.

And yes I know it is all about available water and hydrology as well, so drought has to be factored in any such management process.

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Joined: Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:50 pm

Re: NSF and Stocking Rates

Post by Woodlands » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:07 pm

I'm glad you asked this question as I am seeking a similar answer. Having recently purchased a small cattle breeding farm (100 acres) I am keen to understand how to sustainably increase our stocking rates. and what rate we can expect to achieve on Kykuyu and some perennials.

I'm also interested in comment about the effects of ploughing. We are looking at using biosolids but in NSW they must be ploughed in within 36 hours of spreading.

Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: holbrooknsw

Re: NSF and Stocking Rates

Post by jenni » Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:32 am

hi there, was wondering if the biosolids could be harrowed in rather than ploughed? are you on slopes or flats.i wouldn't plough any country on a slope ever for any reason.i would suggest that nsf wou ld advocate contouring manure along significant hydrological lines.also, in my mind there is no doubt cell grazing, time control grazing etc with attention given to hydrology will in time up yr stocking rates.but. probably. initially.you will find that current stocking rates will be maintained without continued environmental degredation.you have to, at some stage get yr dry matter production in front of yr feed requirements.this means stocking rates are dynamic.i know of 1 cell grazer who calculates his stocking rate by how many animals he can keep on the current amount of feed if there was no rain for 100 days.do you have 100% groundcover at all times? probably not, i know we don't yet.giving paddocks a long rest (150 days for natives) allows these barer patches to grass up,and you get a better spread of manure (fertiliser).this in itself will slow up run off before you engage in any contoured earthworks.duane,does nsf have any official policy on grazing management?
also in our experience ploughing really knocks the native germination rate around.if you are going to plough you have to be prepared to invest in establishing improved pastures.if a perrenial native system is yr goal it will be a long time coming to something useful if you cultivate.best money spent in my mind is on fencing and troughs.

Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Aug 01, 2009 10:24 am
Location: Wagga Wagga. NSW

Re: NSF and Stocking Rates

Post by Stringybark » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:44 pm

Have to agree with Jenni 100%
Tillage will slow your progress. Fences and troughs grow grass.

Mike Hart
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Bendemeer NSW

Re: NSF and Stocking Rates

Post by Mike Hart » Sun Jul 04, 2010 9:41 pm

Through a lot of research I believe I now have the answers to my own question posted earlier. For those interested it would appear that a stocking rate increase is possible but there are a number of big if's and a number of conditions attached to these practices. Essentially all the various techniques are variations on a theme and are not new and have been known about for at least two hundred years referenced by appropriate books and articles.

Basically I have tracked down all the literature on this form of farm management practice and I am now synthesising the into a paper which will I will make available to members of this forum as a PDF document later in the year, at this stage about September 2010. The synthesis part is that it must be integrated with NSF techniques and thinking which is actually not difficult but you have to get your head around looking at the land and livestock differently just as NSF requires.

Footnote- our property (normally a reasonably high rainfall area and in the New England Tablelands area has been in the grip of a sustained drought now for at least 12 months (severe lack of rainfall for months and months on end) and has been in rainfall deficit for a number of years, however I can thank Peter Andrews ideas for keeping the place healthy and our permanent creek looks better than ever and the paddocks look great with wonderful native grass cover, although there is a lack of water to sustain the stock numbers possible until we move to a new watering point system, given cash flow issues this will not be until at least mide 2011. It is raining now but in dribs and drabs.

More later.

Ian James
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:31 am
Location: Avon West Australia

Re: NSF and Stocking Rates

Post by Ian James » Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:36 pm

Mike, I think you are performing a great service to everyone with your work of integrating all your gathered information into a paper incorporating NSF principals into the goal of increased stocking rates within the constraints of our Australian environment.

I have been trying to get my head around a similar scope and task to present to Australian broad acre cereal farmers.
The task is daunting and I have so much to learn before I feel confident that I would be able to submit a comprehensive and intelligible farming system.

My goal is to decipher from all the available information and techniques how we can run a sustainable and profitable enterprise using zero chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers.

I believe I have the concept of such a system within my grasp but I struggle with the effort of bringing it all together while subsequently managing my current enterprise.

If you are able to assist me with any insights you have on producing such a document with any tips or guidance I would be very grateful

Mike Hart
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Bendemeer NSW

Re: NSF and Stocking Rates

Post by Mike Hart » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:37 pm

Ian - Thanks, the hard data from WA (Cattle properties) and VIC and NSW (Mixed and Sheep producers) indicates a significant decrease in the use of herbicides, increase in soil microbiodal activity, increase in water retention and reduced weeds with significant resurgances in native grasses. This all supports the intuitive feel re NSF and its complimentary systems such as practiced in rotational grazing. The material I have from WA indicated they were going to try in the area of cereal crops but I am not sure if the work was done and it only forms part of the reports and papers I have obtained which relate primarily to grazing properties.

My gut feeling is weeds and crops should be complimentary to a point and should not need significant applications of either herbicide or fertiliser, this is based on the experience of two large family farms in dry land country in southern NSW where the old blokes have refused to use herbicides and pesticides and have always zero-tilled and direct planted since, well ever since they have been farming. The old blokes report no significant weed problems. Now the big BUT in the modern agronomy of agribusiness farmers are chasing very high yields per acre, so using pesticides and herbicides is about maximising the monoculture planted (wheats, oats, sorghum etc.) on big properties the returns are not insignificant due to the scale of operations and these guys really chase the percentages, given the cost of their inputs they have to. As Peter so eloquently put it in his books, they are addicted to that white powder and have so degraded the landscape they are not committed whether they like it or not (not meaning staying in the business of crop production). There are many many variables in all this so it is not a simple issue, for example, plant disease and insect attach has been managed quite well by scientists and their development of hybrid varieties etc., however it would appear the limits of these effects (or return on the investment for research) have been declining for some time which is why in my humble opinion the large agro-chemical companies have developed thier own species resilient to thier own poisons.

PM me and we can discuss further.

PS I am no ag scientist just a humble small landowner but when the blokes in suits say it is all good and someone like Peter says it is not, then you know their spinning you a line that is for sure.

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