Upfront Outback

Upfront Outback

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Weigh out

Our recent Dalmore field day was a feast of the future with walk-over-weighing, electronic tracking, water management telemetry, drone flight demonstration, rural business analysis software, Grazing Futures, misting to control weeds, mental health, chemical application and misting display.

DCQ is a collaborator, along with Southern Gulf NRM (project leader), Northern Gulf Resource Management Group and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, on the E-Beef project whose most visible technology is the Tru-Test automatic walk-over-weigh system, which was demonstrated on the day. Cattle must pass over the scales as they leave the watering enclosure, and the recorded live-weight data are coupled with pasture and ground-cover satellite data to allow graziers to better understand the relationship between pasture condition and cattle weights.

A non-technology presentation of particular interest was the business research pilot study being conducted by Dr Thea Voogt, Master of International Commercial Law at the University of Queensland. Dr Voogt is researching the legal structures that farm families and town businesses use in the region, and how these might affect things like cash flow, tax liability, options for succession planning, business risk and access to drought assistance.

The four business structures Dr Voogt is studying are: sole trader, partnership, company and trust. She is focussing on primary producers and small businesses in the region to investigate how business decisions and cash flow relate to the business structure of
small firms, with the aim of using the data to develop best practice and policy for small firms in Australia. Currently, there is little information available to politicians and other decision makers to enable them to shape policy to benefit small businesses.

If you would like to participate in this pilot study, or for more information, please contact Dr Thea Voogt on 07 3346 7540.

Kynuna 9

First we had the Stamford 6, now we have the Kynuna 9… no, not marauding bands of bushrangers, but groups of like-minded graziers who see the benefit of working together on perhaps the greatest threat to their long-term prosperity, Prickly Acacia.

The Kynuna 9 group of landholders met recently around the generous kitchen table at Nuken for a Managing for Change session to plan how to optimise Mitchell Grass health and recovery on their properties. Identifying threats to the ongoing recovery is a central part of their grazing plans, as is understanding what makes both Mitchell Grass and Prickly Acacia tick and the interactions between them.

Wet season spelling to aid grass recovery was a hot topic on the day, as were some of the number around the Prickly Acacia pest. An interesting revelation was that while you may get 75 kg/ha of feed from Prickly Acacia seeds and leaves, it comes at the expense of 1,000 kg/ha of pasture… 25% PA canopy cover = 50% grass loss; 50% PA canopy cover = 75% grass loss.

Part of managing for change, each member of the Kynuna 9 worked on map-based plans to recover land condition following Prickly Acacia control. A key message was keeping Mitchell Grass tussock height to about 20 cm to maximise the ‘growing points’ from where it can shoot after rain.

Hope springs…

The eternal springing of hope is the metaphor we’re using for our project to improve the condition of those amazing springs fed by the Great Artesian Basin. Andrew Burrows, our spring man, is enlisting landholders in developing practical property management strategies to get, and keep, our springs in good shape.

Over the next five years, Andrew will be working on plans to reduce threats to these distinctive islands of biological diversity in an ocean of dry land. For millions of years, these springs have sustained the evolution of an array of unique plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet… plants like the Aloe Pipewort which exists at a single spring, and fish like the Red-finned Blue-eye restricted to a handful of shallow puddles.

The main threat is pressure reduction from uncontrolled bores and mining – bore-capping programs are reducing waste and helping to restore the pressure that pushes the million-year-old water to the surface. Other threats include pugging by cattle, rooting by feral pigs, weed infestations or incursions by the exotic Mosquito Fish which displaces the Red-finned Blue-eye.

One of the practical grazing management practices being considered is installing alternative stock watering points to remove cattle access from the springs. Coupling this with weed and feral pig control will give our little creatures more of a fighting chance to spring back from the jaws of extinction.

For more information on our Hope Springs project, please contact DCQ on (07) 4658 0600.

Maaate…

Nothing draws people together like tragedy, and the devastating floods in the northwest earlier in the year were no exception. People came from all over the country with bales of hay, willing muscles and compassionate hearts for those who had nursed their weakened stock through years of drought only to lose them to swirling floodwaters, boggy ground and deadly cold.

Australian mateship, that display of loyalty, friendship and helping hand made famous by the diggers of the First World War, and before them, the diggers on the Victorian goldfields and still earlier, the felons in chains by the harbourside Tank Steam at Sydney Cove, came to the fore again across the havoc-wrought landscape of the Northwest.

And mateship is not restricted to individuals. Our boys diverted from their usual work of killing Prickly Acacia trees, to provide those extra pairs of hands essential to landholders to enable them to cope with the enormity of getting back to something like normality.

Whether it was rebuilding fences, stockpiling and burning carcasses, carting hay to survivors, or simply being there, our blokes did us proud… a great reflection of our culture and values, and displaying the egalitarian precepts at the centre of the uniquely Australian construct of mateship.

Aliens

There is a certain poetry in turning one alien against another. We’re not talking about an episode of Startrek here, we’re referring to our latest foray into biocontrol by trialling the South African Citrus Thrip (SACT) on the control of Mother-of-millions (MoM) in the east of our region.

Some welcome rain kept many landholders away from our late April SACT and MoM information day at Blackall, but those who made it were extremely interested and full of questions. Although not a lot is known about the SACT, it has been very effective at controlling MoM infestations in the Taroom area by stunting growth and preventing flowering. The NSW biotype of the SACT will attack citrus and mango, yet the biotype found north of the east-west Dalby line shows no such inclination. This is a positive development as the MoM has shown the aptitude to thrive in almost any environment in Queensland.

It appears the SACT may lie dormant in the root system during cold weather, then chew their way up the lower stem as the weather warms up, emerging as adults to attack the upper leaves, then drift on the breeze to a new plant.

While the South African Citrus Thrip is unlikely to be a silver bullet for the Madagascan immigrant, Mother-of-millions, they are looking like a very promising addition to the arsenal.

Far away Paraway

A recent journey to the far reaches of our region by Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator, Doug Allpass, saw the injection of Parkinsonia trees with Di-Bak capsules of native fungi that attack the root system and spread through the soil. These naturally occurring fungi don’t appear to affect native trees but are fatal to this Weed of National Significance from tropical America.

Doug treated the Parkinsonia trees at the headwaters of the Georgina River on Paraway Pastoral Company’s Rocklands Station. Straddling the Queensland – Northern Territory border, this 10,250 square kilometre cattle station undertakes active weed control work in line with their weed management plan. Even though they have very few weeds, it was good to map them and introduce the fungi to aid their efforts.

For further insight into innovative practices at Rocklands, such as smaller paddocks and wet season spelling to regenerate native pastures and improve the productivity of the country, have a look at this video.

Misting time

Our three year trial of applying herbicides to weed species with an agricultural mister has drawn to a close with some great news for land managers seeking to control the Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) species, Prickly Acacia, Bellyache Bush and Rubber Vine.
When we embarked on this project in 2017, there was much skepticism around the ridges as many had tried misting application with mixed and generally limited success. But under the expert guidance of Dr Wayne Vogler, Senior Weed Scientist at Biosecurity Queensland’s Tropical Weeds Research Centre, we can now achieve consistent application and kill rates.
To get to this stage, we’ve had to identify parameters for a range of issues like application rate; droplet size; humidity, temperature and wind speed ranges; ground speed of the machine; angle of the mist stream; problem densities and the effects of shadowing.
The success of these trials revolved around solving all these little issues and bringing those solutions together into operating manuals as repeatable processes. We are now in the throes of applying for the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority permits to use specific herbicides in mister application for each of the three WoNS species mentioned above.
These results would not have been possible without funding from the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and the support of Biosecurity Queensland and the landholders of the region.

Wild about dogs

If you live anywhere near Barcaldine and you’re buckling under the onslaught of wild dogs, then you might want to talk to Larry Lewis.  Larry is the Coordinator for Barcaldine Regional Council’s Good Neighbour Program which assists primary producers to combat the scourge of pest animals and invasive plants in Western Queensland.

Larry is seeking expressions of interest from landholders to attend a wild dog trapping and pest plant information field day.  Depending on the level of interest, a number of sessions may be organised at various locations across the region. If you’re interested, please register with Larry on 49851166, 0448155318, or larryl@barc.qld.gov.au.

 

 

Middle-age spread

As it celebrates its forty-second birthday, the Australian Rangelands Society continues to expand the geographic spread of its biennial conferences to every corner of this vast continent with the 2019 annual conference to be held in Canberra from 2nd to 5th September.

The Australian Rangeland Society (ARS) is an independent and non-aligned association connecting people who care about improving sustainable management of natural resources, life and business in the rangelands. 

Australia’s rangelands cover more than 70% of the country, are home to many of Australia’s Indigenous people, are culturally important to all Australians and a key component of Australia’s identity, and make a significant contribution to Australia’s economy.  For more information, see www.austrangesoc.com.au

 

Flood recovery

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) is seeking expressions of interest from potential candidates in north-west shires for five Industry Recovery Officers.  Their preference is for a local who is already connected into the industry. These staff will:

  • assist Local Government implement their agricultural industry recovery plans;
  • assist DAF implement recovery activities, and help with on-the-ground collaboration between DAF and Council staff;
  • assist to identify industry needs and arrange local industry recovery events in collaboration with DAF and other service providers
  • be the contact who directs graziers towards the range of existing services e.g. volunteers, mental health services and financial planning services
  • be a self-starter who also works well in a team.

For more information or a position description, contact the DAF Flood Recovery Coordinator, David Phelps on 07 4536 8344 or 0427270259.