The importance of Science in Agriculture

The importance of Science in Agriculture

Articles & Publications, Opinion Pieces
Science is vital to the future of agriculture and producers need to play a role! This was a clear message that came from Professor Dennis Poppi at the very first combined producer business group meeting Bush Agribusiness held in October. The meeting was one of the highlights of 2020 for Bush AgriBusiness and brought together like-minded producers from across Queensland for two days of learning, discussion and networking. Starting the two day conference, Professor Poppi detailed what the scientific process is, how it has evolved, and how agriculture has played a large role in its development (see Rothamsted). Whilst the scientific process is imperfect and can take a long time, robust research and the scientific process play an important role in providing the solutions to key problems facing the industry.…
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Determining long-term carrying capacity

Determining long-term carrying capacity

Articles & Publications, Opinion Pieces
KNOWING the long-term carrying capacity (LTCC) is essential information for managers of extensive grazing businesses. As highlighted in a previous Beef Central article, it is a controversial issue, however there is an established, evidence-based process for estimating long term carrying capacity. Let’s start by defining what carrying capacity is. The long term carrying capacity is the number of animals that a property (or paddock) can support over a planning horizon (10+ years) with no decline in land condition. The figure is typically expressed in Animal Equivalents (AE). Current carrying capacity is based on current land condition and watered area, whereas potential LTCC is based on best land condition state and assumes the area is fully watered (source: Australian Beef Report: 2020 Vision). In order to calculate the carrying capacity for an…
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Budgeting beef prices difficult in current market

Budgeting beef prices difficult in current market

Articles & Publications, Opinion Pieces
The stars are aligned for the beef industry at the moment, with beef prices are at or near the 100th percentile of long-term prices and interest rates at historical lows. If the forecasted La Nina eventuates, then we will have the trifecta! Our analysis has found that, for average producers, the majority of long-term profits are made in those periods when the stars are aligned. Top performers also do well during these years, but are less reliant on these years for their long-term performance. A challenge in periods of fluctuating prices, such as we have seen recently, is determining what prices to use in forward budgeting. We could optimistically say that the current prices are the ‘new normal’ and here to stay, as may have been assumed in the late 80’s,…
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Powerful profits or lovely landscapes? Do we really have to choose?

Powerful profits or lovely landscapes? Do we really have to choose?

Articles & Publications, Opinion Pieces
For some years now, Ian McLean and I have been advocating the need for concurrent financial and environmental sustainability in Australian agriculture.Our focus has been primarily on rangeland pastoralism because that is our main field of expertise, but that is not to diminish the importance of the principles being extended to all areas of broadacre agricultural production, grazing and cropping.  With the benefit of hindsight, I don't think we have done a good enough job to explain the thinking and logic that support this position.The literature on sustainability theory describes five areas needing to be addressed in agriculture if overall sustainability is the goal. Financial and environmental are arguably the two most important as they are predominantly under the control of the producer.The main issue here is that both of them have…
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Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) study

Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) study

Articles & Publications, Industry Publications
Download Full Report Genetics:‌ ‌Balanced‌ ‌approach‌ ‌essential,‌ ‌but‌ ‌fertility‌ ‌is‌ ‌key‌  A comprehensive study, drawing on the best available information on northern herd performance, business performance and genetics, has been undertaken to demonstrate the impact of genetic improvement of cow fertility on the bottom line of northern beef businesses. [caption id="attachment_17965" align="alignright" width="150"] Regions Analysed[/caption] The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) study, undertaken by Sam Harburg, Ian McLean and Ben Hayes, collated data for seven beef producing regions in Queensland. The data was primarily drawn from the QAAFI-led Northern Genomics Project, as well as the Australian Beef Report, and other industry data sources. These data sets enabled a comprehensive profile of genetic composition, herd productivity and business performance to be developed for each region.  Using these profiles,…
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Does genetic progress have to slow during the rebuilding phase?

Does genetic progress have to slow during the rebuilding phase?

Articles & Publications, Opinion Pieces
Michael Wellington and Karissa de Belle, Bush AgriBusiness Pty Ltd. With the current lack of stock across the country, many herd or flock managers will not have the luxury of culling that they normally would. This raises the question of how genetic progress is affected by, and should be managed in, different seasonal conditions. We have heard from some producers and advisors that genetic progress will slow during commercial herd/flock rebuilds. However, we are not entirely convinced that this is necessarily the case.  In the equation for genetic progress (see footnote 1), selection intensity (i) is affected by selection itself (how different are the new sires and breeders coming into the breeding herd from the current herd average?) and culling (how different is the herd average after culling, from the…
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Considering Goats

Considering Goats

Articles & Publications, Opinion Pieces
Karissa de Belle and Ian McLean, Bush AgriBusiness Pty Ltd Low conventional stock numbers, the current price of goats, along with their hardiness and fertility is causing many producers in rangeland areas to give them serious consideration as a potential enterprise. It will be an attractive option for many, however any enterprise choice requires careful consideration. The first consideration with goats is what sort of enterprise they will be. Will they be a managed flock1, wild harvested or somewhere in between, i.e. wild harvest with smaller ones put behind wire to grow out to killable weight. If it is simply an opportunistic harvest and immediate sale of wild roaming goats, then it is pretty straightforward, provided you have some basic infrastructure. If they are there, can be mustered, trucked and…
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