Natural resource management at its best

(0Teamwork been highlighted as the key to success at an outstanding pasture field day on George and Maree Avendano’s grazing property “Towri” at Blairmore near Boggabri in the State’s North West last month.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) teamed up with private and community organisations under the banner of the North West Branch of the Grassland Society of NSW to give more than 150 farmers and industry representatives the benefit of their collective knowledge.

It’s another success for the recently re-formed branch, whose aim is to upgrade the management, productivity, and sustainability of grazing industries throughout the region.

New England/North West Regional Director of Agriculture and Fisheries with DPI, Bob Freebairn, said this approach to extension delivery would have positive outcomes for natural resource management.

“The day was an outstanding example of how people can work together to improve regional productivity and profitability and as a practical demonstration of how farmers can improve soil and water quality, reduce salinity and achieve benefits from improved biodiversity,” Mr Freebairn said.

“People could see what this committed and enthusiastic family has achieved on their once very poor quality over-farmed soil, and the results speak for themselves.

“In just 14 years George and Maree Avendano have made huge gains in restoring the property to be one of the most successful examples of livestock and perennial sub-tropical grasses in the district.

“Soil pits under a sub-tropical grass pasture were compared to an unimproved site and were used to demonstrate the improved soil structure, deeper root penetration, high organic matter levels and less water leakage to a salty sub-soil.

“Machinery provoked discussion about planting methods to achieve better pasture establishment and the degree of change that can occur with sound pasture management was very obvious during a walk through a paddock of improved pastures.”

He said there were around seven million hectares of pastures in the New England/North West region, with large portions underutilised and managed to well below capacity - often overgrazed, and underfertilised - resulting in poor production.

“As well as showing what can be achieved with improved pastures, a field day like this also serves to reinforce and educate people as to how well improved pastures protect the industry during drought.

“The Avendanos came through the recent drought with no stock reductions or significant dips in profitability, while most graziers were cutting their stock numbers. Their pastures were highly productive when many paddocks were bare, an experience we can learn a lot from.”

The field day was sponsored by DPI, the Namoi Catchment Management Authority and the Liverpool Plains Land Management Committee (LPLMC).

Mr Freebairn acknowledged the vital contribution of DPI district agronomists Loretta Serafin and Lester McCormick, hosts George and Maree Avendano, Stuart Murray (Goddards), Rob Banks (SoilFutures), and Mark Kesby (LPLMC).

Media contact: Bob Freebairn, NSW DPI Gunnedah, (02) 6741 8376 or 0427 007 493.

Issued by: Annette Cross, NSW DPI Tamworth, (02) 6763 1243 or 0427 201 840.