As the fourth generation to breed beef cattle on our family property near Baralaba in Central Queensland, my brother and I take on the role with nearly 100 years of knowledge about the land we live on behind us. This includes continually fine tuning the way we manage our farm to meet the changing climatic and market conditions.
During the last 100 years there have been many challenges, from droughts, floods, fire to market slumps, but somehow we’ve made it through. The secret to this, I believe, is having respect for the land and realising that running a sustainable production system, like ours, is dependent on caring for the land, and adjusting what we do to suit it. This requires a multifaceted approach, which rewards with healthy environmental and profitable production systems.
During the course of our ownership, my family has developed a number of strategies. One of which is to match the cattle we run to the land and the climate we farm in. For us this meant moving away from the original British breeds, such as Hereford, and into the more feed efficient, tick resistant, and heat tolerant, Brahman and Droughtmaster cattle. This has reduced our reliance on chemicals for pest control and allowed for a better utilisation of the feed available. We continue to selectively breed our cattle to better suit our land and improve environmental and production outcomes. We also ensure that our stocking rates match the amount of feed we have. This is to ensure over grazing is avoided and that we have a sustained source of stock feed and can be resilient through drought.
We have numerous dams on our properties to supply consistent water and where possible fence them off to reduce nutrient build up from cattle effluent. This aids in the creation of ecosystems for many aquatic plant and animal species. We also have two major creek systems running through either end of our properties.
These not only provide water for stock as well as adding to the incredible natural beauty, however they are a blessing and a curse, as when water flows in from upstream it brings with it many plant pests. We routinely monitor our creek flats for pest plants and use weed control methods to return them to their native state.
We have also retained considerable areas of natural woodlands, which serve dual purposes. The established vegetation acts in preventing land degradation impacts such as salinity and erosion from taking place, and provides habitat for native animals. We are often able to hear the koalas from our house just on dusk, and going looking for them was a much-loved activity as a child.
I now attend university, studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Queensland. This course has provided me with knowledge including ecology, natural resource management, and information regarding the latest technology available to farmers to increase sustainability of the environment and production systems. It has helped me to combine my previous knowledge of the land with new insights, allowing me to adjust and form new approaches to manage the land we have.
There is a misconception in some part of the community that farmers only see their land as a provider of income, but for the majority of farmers is a passion and a lifelong commitment. Living on the land we face many hardships, and it is our love of the land that gets us through these, and more often than not, the thought of being able to pass on this love and our land to the next generation.
I am now also a Young Farming Champion for the At4Agriculture program, sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia and the Target 100 campaign.
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