Utilizing the native country in an overall farm production system – Ian Locke

Ian Locke is the managing partner of a family grazing business called Wirruna Poll Hereford Stud located at Holbrook in southern NSW. Having completed a Degree in Agricultural Economics(UNE) and an early career as an agricultural business consultant in Sydney and Orange in NSW, Ian began his farming career in 1994 following his passion of growing grass and beef cattle.

Ian presented a paper to the 51st Annual Conference of the Grassland Society of Southern Australia.

His key message was, “After years of fencing the farm according to land class and building productivity through pasture improvement and fertiliser applications, the native hill country became the last frontier.

At the beginning my approach was to fly on superphosphate and utilise anything extra that grew! Over time, it became clear that this approach was unsustainable at both the economic and environmental levels.

By recognising that:

  • tactical grazing can favour some of the key native species,
  • the native perennials have value in a low input pasture system, and
  • we can integrate the native based pastures in our overall farm system to the benefit of our higher gross margin cattle and prime lamb enterprises,

we now have adopted a regime of strategically grazing the native-based pastures at times that suit their regeneration and allow better management of the productive, improved pastures that are the powerhouse for our enterprises. This is done at no downside cost to the annual average DSE carried on the hill country and in fact, saves previous fertiliser and weed control costs associated with managing the country for higher production.”

Download the full paper here.

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