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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The benefits of sharing intellectual capital in the beef industry

The benefits of sharing intellectual capital in the beef industry

Articles & Publications, Opinion Pieces
By Ian McLean and Phil Holmes We believe the management of capital is an issue for the beef industry. The returns on financial capital are insufficient, environmental capital needs preservation and intellectual capital is undervalued. While all aspects are important; we will focus here on intellectual capital as it influences the management of the other two. Within the context of pastoral business management, we have defined intellectual capital as the hard-won knowledge that smart producers have learnt from their peers and predecessors about profitable pastoral production, along with their own experience and knowledge gathering. It is distinct from intellectual property which is more about a breakthrough in understanding due to a completely new way of looking at issues. Managing a modern pastoral business is a multi-disciplinary vocation, requiring skills in…
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How does land condition affect property values?

How does land condition affect property values?

Articles & Publications, Opinion Pieces
By Ian McLean THE answer to this question depends a lot on how you define ‘value’. We are referring primarily to the intrinsic economic value of a property, as opposed to the value placed on it by the market. A previous article on ‘Beef land vs. Gold’ discusses different approaches to valuation. The intrinsic economic value of an asset is essentially its value based on its future earning capacity, which means that land condition has a big effect. There are four categories of land condition recognised in northern Australia: ‘A’ for good condition, ‘B’ for fair, ‘C’ for poor and ‘D’ for very poor.  This report-card style classification is determined by the health and functioning of the pasture and soil components of the area being assessed. Land in poor (‘C’) condition…
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Benchmarking Evolution

Benchmarking Evolution

Articles & Publications, Opinion Pieces
By Phil Holmes Farm business benchmarking first appeared in Australia over 40 years ago, starting with the cropping industry. The livestock industry soon followed with the Victorian DPI Monitor Farm Study being, arguably, the first serious attempt in the early 70's. It is still there today. By today's standards those early versions were rather simplistic, but you have to start somewhere. Increased knowledge and experience have made significant contributions to the process over time. I have been very fortunate to have had three great mentors in the early years of my career and I would not have had the career fulfilment that I have enjoyed without them. One of them was a Cooma NSW based entrepreneurial accountant, Mick Boyce who was always looking for ways to add value to client relationships. Mick…
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Australian Beef Report 2020

Articles & Publications, Industry Publications
The Australian Beef Report shows you the financial and production performance of family owned beef businesses in Australia. It has been written for profit focussed producers, industry service professionals and other industry stakeholders who would like to better understand, and improve, beef business performance in Australia at the production level. This report follows the successful release of the first edition in 2017 Read more
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