Grazing land condition
What is grazing land condition?
Grazing land condition is the capacity of the land to efficiently capture energy, cycle nutrients, and respond to rainfall to produce useful forage.
It is a measure of how well the grazing ecosystem is functioning and directly influences the productivity of your land.
Land condition underpins the beef industry’s productivity and profitability
Understanding land condition and how land is influenced by your grazing management including; stocking rates, spelling regimes, weed control and fire management, forms the basis of good business management for any grazing enterprise.
Maintaining your land in ‘good’ condition is important to:
- Maximise productivity and profitability in your grazing business
- Maintain stability and resilience to recover from disturbances (e.g. drought, fire, pests, and overgrazing)
- Maximise biodiversity and ecosystem function
Grazing land condition has three key components:
The capacity of pasture to: capture solar energy and convert it into palatable green leaf; use rainfall efficiently; conserve soil condition; and cycle nutrients.
The capacity of soil to: absorb and store rainfall; store and cycle nutrients; provide habitat for soil biota (all organisms living within the soil), seed germination and plant growth; and resist erosion and degradation.
The effect that woodland condition has on the capacity of the land to: grow pasture; cycle nutrients; regulate ground water; resist erosion; provide shelter for stock, microclimates and habitat for native species; and maintain biodiversity.
The ABCD Land Condition Framework
The ABCD framework was developed by the Queensland Government to classify land condition and describe progressive degradation of grazing land.
The framework provides a standard means of assessing grazing land condition by monitoring its key components, particularly pasture condition and soil condition.
“ Healthy country means healthy cattle and a healthy sustainable business”
The Rolling Ball model of Land Condition
The Rolling Ball model is useful for understanding the ABCD Land Condition framework. Not all changes in land conditions occur at the same rate, and some are not easily reversible. Land in A condition is very stable. Land that is trending towards B condition can be fairly quickly reverted to A condition by a change in management. However, land in B condition is susceptible to a relatively quick decline to C condition. Reversing this change may require a major change in management and will take some time to occur.
Land in C condition is very susceptible to falling rapidly to D condition. To improve condition it may mean spelling, stocking at a lower rate and implementing weed control over a long period. Land in D condition will not revert to C condition by simply changing management, at least not in any time frame of practical value. Reverting land from D condition to C condition requires a large input of time and money (e.g. treating woody weeds, ploughing and re-sowing with pasture seed), and even this may be insufficient if soil condition has been severely degraded.
Key indicators for each Land Condition category:
|A Condition (Good)
||[Picture of good condition]|
|B Condition (Fair)
||[Picture of fair condition]|
|C Condition (Poor)
||[Picture of poor condition]|
|D Condition (Very Poor)
||[Picture of very poor condition]|
Key Points: Improving grazing land condition
- Plan and manage your property according to the capability and limitations of the land, based on an understanding of land types / land resource areas and ecological processes across the whole of property and the wider catchment.
- Adopt grazing management practices which maintain healthy, diverse pastures which are dominated by 3 P (Perennial, Productive , Palatable) grasses with a high frequency of desirable forbs including legumes, and few annuals or weeds.
- Maintain high levels of groundcover ( > 90 %) at all times of the year and manage soils to prevent erosion and to maintain productive capacity and water quality.
- Ensure sustainable utilisation rates – normally varies between 20% – 35 %depending on your land types.
- Regularly monitor your pastures and match stocking rates to seasonal pasture availability.
- Ensure your grazing management system incorporates regular spelling or rest at appropriate times to enable pastures to recover and set seed.