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Emily King
Manager, Woolgrower Education & Capacity Building
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Rangeland Renewal - 2011 National Bestprac Forum

Posted by Bestprac on Jan 16 2012

Forum Presentations available to review

The 2011 National Bestprac forum was held on the 11th and 12th of August at Hawker in SA. This year’s forum was funded by Australian Wool Innovation, Making More from Sheep, ANZ and SA Arid Land NRM Board. Bestprac (an AWI network) is a continuous improvement program for arid zone rangeland wool, sheep meat and cattle producers. Bestprac groups operate in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia. The program provides support and coaches rangeland producers to improve their business and production performance.

Producers and service providers from across Australia were attracted to the national forum that showcased and discussed wide range of industry issues. The topics focused on innovative practices and techniques that are essential for all rangeland businesses during this time of renewal and reinvigoration.

Forum Presentations available to review:

Electronic resources to understand climate in your business

Susan Carn
AWI Market update Paul Swan, AWI
MLA Meat Market update – Beef, sheep and goats Richard Apps, MLA
Sheep Genetics Luke Stephen, MERINOSELECT
Flystrike Management Lu Hogan, Sheep CRC
Seasonal influences on reproduction Michelle Cousins, Cousins Merino Services
What are the first steps in the succession planning process that all businesses need to consider? John Squires, Rural Directions Pty Ltd
Introduction to Ecosystem Management Understanding (EMU) Janet Walton, SAAL NRM Board
Management Systems on Three Rivers Station Ben Forsyth
Organics Update Garry Hannigan 
Nuffield 2012 Update James Robertson
Marketing Pastoral Lamb Update Jamie McTaggart
Tourism in the Rangelands Update Brendan and Carmel Reynolds

NOTE: All presentations are current as of August 2011



Attendees were also given the opportunity to hear from the dinner speaker Doug Avery. Doug has transformed his drought prone sheep and beef farm in Marlborough New Zealand, and greatly improved productivity. He has travelled all over New Zealand delivering his message and has inspired many to look at change proactively. He spoke to forum attendees about the importance of having a positive attitude in agriculture and 'moving beyond reasonable drought’.

Daytime sessions were delivered by industry experts and were well received by all who attended. Market updates from Paul Swan (AWI) and Richard Apps (MLA) gave valuable insight into the fundamentals that are having the greatest effects on current markets. Paul said the outlook for the wool market is strong but to ‘expect volatility’. The overall outlook for the meat market is ‘optimistic for the next 5 years’, with Richard explaining a number of factors boosting market confidence.

The importance of genetics and selective breeding were highlighted in sessions given by Luke Stephen, Project Officer for MERINOSELECT sheep genetics, and Lu Hogan, Sheep CRC. Luke explained to attendees how both environment and genetics both have an impact on the performance of each animal. He explained different genetic traits and how they can be used to help producers select stock to achieve their performance goals. Lu gave attendees the tools and information needed to develop a flystrike management plan for their business. In smaller groups during the ‘round table discussions’, Lu explained the FlyBoss tool that producers can use to determine what management strategies they can use to minimise their risk of flystrike. This interactive session sparked a lot of interest with the groups who were interested to see how their current management impacted on their flystrike risk.

John Squires of Rural Directions Pty Ltd spoke to attendees about planning for succession in their businesses. John highlighted the importance of understanding that succession planning is a ‘process and not an event’. His session provoked a lot of questions and conversation among the audience.

Steve Lapidge, Invasive Animals CRC, provided the audience with an entertaining look into the new invasive animal management tools that will soon be available. He pointed out to attendees the importance of remaining proactive with their pest management, rather than waiting for the damage to occur. Steve pointed out ‘there are no silver bullets’ when it comes to pest management, instead multiple tools should be utilised.

A number of successful rangeland producers also spoke at the forum providing a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to the audience. Susan Carn, a producer from Quorn and member of her Bestprac group for 8 years, spoke to the audience about the electronic resources available to understand climate in their businesses. Susan’s ability to collect a whole range of climate data and use it to help with management decisions on their property sparked a lot of interest with the audience. By explaining weather systems to the group in a language they could understand, Susan gave many attendees a valuable tool they can now utilise on their properties when making decisions.

A number of producer speakers have made significant improvements to their productivity through a range of changes. Ben Forsyth is the Production and Environmental Manager of his family’s 513,000 hectare Three Rivers pastoral lease in Western Australia. His session focused on how he plans to continue a process of correcting erosion and returning natural water flows, in order to maximise the grazing potential of his property. Ben’s aim of ‘turning red to green’, on his property, gave many landholders, who attended, the confidence that similar processes can be undertaken on their own properties. James Robertson, a 2010 Nuffield Scholar, also gave the message that ‘if you are not happy with part of your business, be prepared to change something’. James has done this by implementing a small scale feedlot on his property, which is used for weaning and to finish stock for sale. This system change has resulted in improved animal efficiency and performance.

The marketing of rangeland products was at the centre of both Garry Hannigan and Jamie McTaggart’s sessions. Garry’s property, Churinga, located 130km east of Broken Hill, is a fully certified organic enterprise which supplies lamb into the domestic organic market. With minimal changes to his business management, Garry is now able to gain a premium return for his product and encouraged other producers to consider doing the same. Jamie McTaggart who also runs an organic enterprise, with Spear Creek Dorper Lamb one of their brands, gave an insight to attendees about what is involved with marketing your own product.



Last changed: Feb 08 2012



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