Brett Hall, beef farmer, Bronte Park, Tas
Our farm is located in a high rainfall area with an elevation of up to 700 metres, which makes temperature the limiting pasture growth factor.
The latest research carried out by Climate Futures for Tasmania for this area predicts that there will be a decrease in rainfall for all seasons on the Central Plateau. Pasture production is projected to increase significantly mainly because of an earlier start to spring and higher growth during both spring and summer due to increased temperatures. Rainfall intensity will increase and therefore also increase the number of run off events, so we need to keep improving the land’s ability to absorb and hold water.
Implementing holistic management to our traditional grazing operation has ensured the landscape is more sustainable, resilient and diverse.
The only constant is change and we've kept trying to improve our management practices and skills to adapt to customer preferences and climatic conditions.
We're preparing for a changing future by focusing on:
Our commitment to the land is reflective of Aboriginal cultural beliefs in that we don’t really own the land, but we are responsible for caring and maintaining it for future generations.
Rather than renovating pastures by ploughing, we've focused on improving soil fertility and this has encouraged the more productive perennials to replace introduced annual grasses. The number and volume of native grass species have also been increased by managed stock exclusion during seed setting times. Maintaining groundcover prevents erosion and maintains plant root mass which allows a quick growth response to any rainfall.
There has been significant change to the climate here in my lifetime. The Central Plateau was grazed in a manner similar to that of the mountainous country in Europe. Stock was driven up to the highlands for summer grazing and brought back down to the low country for the Winter because of the harsh conditions. We can run livestock up here now all year round which was not accepted as feasible as recently as 30 years ago.
Stock movements have been made more efficient and less stressful with better fence and gate location and also implementing stock handling principles advocated by the renowned US livestock handler Bud Williams.
Yards have been built in accordance with the animal psychology principles pioneered by Temple Grandin.
Peak nutrition requirements by the animals have been matched to annual growth patterns, eliminating supplementary feeding as much as possible.
We've implemented some of (environmental management consultant) Peter Andrews recommendations about slowing the flow of water through the landscape. This helps capture as much moisture as possible in the soil itself and this makes the property more resilient. The cattle always do better with easy access to a plentiful high-quality water supply.