Managing and developing plants for varaible climates

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Managing livestock in variable climates requires as much a focus on the plants as on animals and making decisions before there is a visual deterioration in livestock condition. A flexible approach to management is needed. The basic relationships between herbage mass and animal performance can be used to estimate when it is time for animals to be moved. Selling animals early often means a better price than when droughts are obvious. As dry seasons develop within a region the conditions that apply for pasture growth become more typical of naturally drier regions e.g. the tablelands in NSW may become more like the slopes. In general for plant survival the lower the rainfall, the lower the level of forage utilisation that should apply. Thus as dry seasons develop even greater reductions in stocking rates than often happens may be needed to maintain pasture species, else the costs of resowing need to be considered. Both native and exotic plant species can survive droughts if appropriately managed. Fencing on a landscape basis and excluding more sensitive areas as dry seasons develop are important. Setting minimal levels of herbage mass below which grazing should not go, builds in a trigger point for decisions and also enables reduced utilisation as dry seasons develop. Further work is needed to better resolve the minimal herbage mass values needed in different seasons to maintain livestock and pastures. Plant breeding is often seen as a ‘magic bullet’ but it is unrealistic to expect any plant to grow without water. Selections for better recovery from grazing and stressful conditions are important criteria, though this can also be achieved with good management. Wetter years may not immediately improve incomes when it is not possible to obtain extra livestock, but they are good opportunities to cost-effectively rehabilitate degraded pastures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication22nd Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationPasture systems: Managing for a variable climate
EditorsHugh Dove
Place of PublicationCanberra, ACT
PublisherThe Grassland Society of NSW Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780734718457
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventThe Grassland Society of NSW Inc Annual Conference - Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia
Duration: 18 Jul 200719 Jul 2007


ConferenceThe Grassland Society of NSW Inc Annual Conference


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