The paired-paddock model as an agent for change on grazing properties across south-east Australia Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • A detailed study was undertaken on the pasture management practices of 146 producers across south-east Australia who participated in the Grassland’s Productivity Program (GPP) for 3 years between 1993 and 1997. The GPP was an extension program to assist wool producers to develop skills and gain confidence in their ability to manage more productive pastures on their farms. The program consisted of 50 farmer groups (200 farmers participating) spread across the 4 states of South Australia, southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Each farmer established paired-paddocks on their own property to compare productive pastures with existing pastures. Productive pastures involve increased rates of fertiliser on pastures containing productive species, with stocking rate adjusted to consume available pasture. After 3 years of involvement in the GPP, there was a whole-farm increase in P fertiliser use by 6.3 kg P/ha, stocking rates by 2.6 dse/ha and annual pasture resowing by 0.9% of the farm, when averaged across the 146 participants. The participants were applying the productive pasture technology to almost a third of their properties in 1997 and the intention was to increase this to over half of their properties by 2000. The participants also changed farm management practices as the program effectively developed management skills. There were increases in the ability to assess pasture quality and quantity, livestock by weighing or physical assessment, and the ability to calculate per hectare production and per hectare gross margins. A high proportion of GPP participants were soil testing (0.92) and spring lambing (0.72) at the completion of the program. The results indicated that the adoption of productive pastures was generally consistent across south-east Australia for pastoral producers who participated in this program, although south-west Victorian and south-east South Australian GPP participants did increase whole-farm P application by more than GPP participants from outside that region. The widespread change in farming practice was attributed to the additive and interactive effect of the paired-paddock comparison, the guidance provided by the facilitator, the group interaction and the skills training. Each of these components of the paired-paddock model combined to form an effective agent for change to increase pasture productivity on these grazing properties.

publication date

  • 2000