By Col Feilen
Early in May, we launched a new series called Champions of Grazing Innovation to celebrate those in the community who are charting their own course to success through AgTech innovation. We kicked Champions off with the prolific Stuart Austin from Wilmot Cattle Co. in a Q&A-style webinar that I hosted – you can view the webinar at the end of this blog post.
There was a great deal of interest in this series, and we received a high volume of questions prior and during Stuart’s session. Stuart has very kindly shared his answers to three of those questions here.
Q: What percentage of carrying capacity do you consider comfortable?
Stuart: We find a lot of value in being able to look at our current stocking rate relative to our benchmark carrying capacity and try to stay within range of that line. We have spent quite a bit of time over our benchmark in the last two years, but the important thing was that we were aware of that and kept a close eye on our ecology to ensure we weren’t damaging it by being over our benchmark. Interestingly, when we have been at our highest stocking rate, we have generally had the least cattle on! Which is the hangover you cause by going over the benchmark. So, to answer your question, we do not focus on a percentage, more on the trend of the stocking rate line relative to our benchmark, more than 3 months trending towards it is an indicator for us to take action!
Q: What method do you use to measure pasture into the program?
Stuart: We use Stock Days per Hectare or SDH’s, which I explain in quite a bit of detail in one of my recent Facebook posts on our Wilmot Cattle Co page. The thing I prefer about it is that it deals with only known variables, which are: how many cattle in the mob? What is their LSU rating? How big is the paddock? And, how long did they spend in there? Jim Gerrish says, if you make this calculation 30 times over, you will be 98% accurate, which is far more accurate than any other kind of pasture estimations that are done regularly.
Note: MaiaGrazing is adaptable to all types of pasture measurement entry. So, if you’re not on top of your pasture entry details for whatever reason, you’ll receive a feedback loop on each graze of how much has been removed from the graze – helping you with your estimates. Why not book a MaiaGrazing demonstration or run a trial to see it for yourself?
Q: How have you seen the ecology and pasture change?
Stuart: We have seen very good succession over time in our pastures from weeds, annuals, and less desirable perennials to mostly desirable perennials, w some weeds and some annuals. A biodiversity assessment undertaken 2yrs ago found 74 different species of plans on Wilmot. We have just undertaken another assessment and I am confident that number has increased by approx. 20%.
I hope you’ll be able to join us in our second installment of Champions of Grazing Innovation in mid-June where we will be showcasing the very talented Maddy Pursehouse née Coleman. If you would like to nominate a Champion in your community who is doing great things in grazing, please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch a replay of Champions of Grazing Innovation 1: Stuart Austin
Like to adopt Stuart’s winning ways? Start with MaiaGrazing: