Incorporation of Practical Measures to Assist Conservation of Biodiversity Within Sustainable Beef Production in Northern Australia

Edited by Sue McIntyre, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Jointly funded by MLA, CSIRO and Environment Australia, October 2001
ISBN 1 74036 189 X

Appendix 6: Report on the Use of the Project Information and Communication Resources in Extension Networks

Detailing the use and impact of a presentation 'Ecological Principles for Grazing Land Management' at NAP3 Pasture Monitoring Project workshops, Durong 30,31 March 1988

Report prepared by Benita Darrow July 1998.

Land Monitoring Project and Workshops

An ecological principles presentation based on material from the NAP3 joint CSIRO/DPI/DNR project 'Incorporation of practical measures to assist conservation of biodiversity within sustainable beef production' was made by Benita Darrow, Department of Natural Resources Mundubbera at pasture monitoring workshops at Durong on the 30 and 31 March 1998. The workshops were the first part of another NAP3 producer driven project 'Determining the productive capacity of your land to develop sustainable management practices' - aimed to increase producers abilities and skills in monitoring pasture resources. The Durong field days were one of six held across Northern Australia involving >120 beef producers. The workshops at Durong aimed to provide an ecological background to pasture resource management and to generate motivation and direction for establishing sites for ongoing monitoring.

Durong Workshop Participants

Twenty four properties were represented by 33 landholders at the two monitoring workshops at Durong and covered a total of over 90000 ha of grazing land. This can be interpreted as over 90000 ha of land is being managed by graziers who have committed themselves to ongoing monitoring from at least one GRASSCheck site established as part of the project. Graziers attended from Kingaroy, Chinchilla, Proston, Durong, Meandarra, Hannaford, Mundubbera, Eidsvold, Hivesville, Monto, and Murgon. The coordinator for this region is Kent Lithgow, 'Koala', Chinchilla.

Ecological Principles Presentation' - Role in Workshop

'Ecological Principle for Grazing Land Management' presented by Benita Darrow was the first of a three part presentation including 'The Nuts and Bolts of Pasture Management' presented by Col Paton, Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Brian Pastures Research Station and 'Introduction to Pasture Monitoring' presented by Damien O'Sullivan, DPI, Kingaroy. The first principles ecological presentation drew participants thinking above the level of their paddocks, properties and specific problems and encouraged lateral thinking. The 'pyramid approach' began with a broad-brush look at grazing land ecology, then more specifically at pasture management principles and then at pasture monitoring. This pyramid approach was easily followed by attendants and was thoroughly enjoyed.

Ecological Principles Presentation' - Effectiveness

I felt that this broad ecological presentation greatly enhanced the success of the workshop and of the pasture monitoring that was to follow on individual properties. All but two DPI staff and one producer from approximately 25 on the first day appreciated the approach. The following comments from producers following the 'ecological principles talk' indicated the very positive response to the presentation:

'It is always good to take a step back so you can take a fresh look at the world - at what you're doing' 'I wish others could adopt this way of thinking'

'Starting off broadly and then focussing down on issues allowed for some lateral thinking. We don't get to hear this type of approach very often - we're constantly focussed on our specific problems at a paddock level.'

'The overheads were very well done'

'The way the material was presented was simple and unassuming and offered respect to producers.'

Likewise on the second day of the workshops participants were similarly impressed.

Background to involvement

In preparation discussions for the workshop Kent Lithgow, area coordinator, expressed interest in starting from a broad ecological viewpoint, and focussing on the role of the plant as the primary producer, and on biodiversity.

The ecological presentation prepared by Sue McIntyre and John McIvor, Tropical Agriculture, CSIRO for the project 'Incorporation of practical measures to assist conservation of biodiversity within sustainable beef production' was very appropriate. I had previously witnessed the effectiveness of this presentation at two producer groups at Mundubbera. It is (as far as I am aware) the only concise and effective presentation available to communicate ecological principles for grazing land management at a practical level.