Improving livestock farm profits and sustainability

UN Sustainable Development Goals

This research supports United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 3 - Good health and well-beingGoal 8 - Decent work and economic growthGoal 12 - Responsible Consumption and ProductionGoal 15 - Life on land

Charles Sturt University partnered in EverGraze, researching how livestock enterprises could make management decisions about when, where and how to use perennial plants to increase productivity and profitability, while also looking after the sustainability and resilience of the land.

… if you want to get people to adopt perennials to achieve environmental outcomes, then we had to demonstrate that those systems could be more profitable

– Prof Michael Friend

A profitable farming business and a farm managed for environmental sustainability? Ask around, most farmers will tell you that the best way to have a profitable farming business over the long term means looking after your land. But making the best decisions for individual farm systems requires good information.

EverGraze was a national program of research, looking at how perennial plants could be used in different livestock enterprises to increase farm profitability while also improving the environment by reducing ground water recharge and soil loss in the high rainfall zones of southern Australia.

Putting the Right Plant in the Right Place for the Right Purpose with the Right Management.

The biggest benefit I think in the EverGraze process was to understand the farm as a whole farming system.

– Chris Mirams, Former Property Manager, Woomagama Station

The research

The messages about farm management coming out of EverGraze are different from the recommendations that usually come from agricultural research. The emphasis is not on encouraging widespread adoption of best practice recommendations. Instead, the main message is that every livestock farm business is unique and complex, and primary producers need to be able to make on-farm decisions for their circumstances.

As a key partner in EverGraze from 2003 to 2014, an important goal was to generate information that was relevant and accessible to farmers. A range of factsheets, calculators and tools were developed out of the research. They help farmers to assess their options, understand the consequences of different practices, and to make decisions that suit their farm context. The research provides good evidence to identify alternative practices to reduce risk by making system-based decisions.

Farmers and consultants served on regional advisory groups and were critical to translating the research results into communications that changed farm management practices.

Program highlights

A national program of research bringing together over 250 experts, including scientists and researchers, agricultural consultants and farmers.

Looking at real livestock farming systems from high rainfall areas of Southern Australia to understand what changes to a system could increase profits and improve the environment.

Farmers and agricultural consultants were included throughout the program, helping to make findings realistic and relevant.

Offering a new approach to pasture and livestock management through a ‘whole farm system’ approach.

Helping livestock producers make decisions by helping them to evaluate their farming system.

Making the findings and tools accessible for producers

Real changes to farming practices, improving both profitability and the natural resource management of farms.

Funding and collaborators

Michael Friend

Michael Friend

Charles Sturt University

Professor Michael Friend has been actively involved in research projects ranging from nutrition, both ruminant and monogastric, to farming systems research. His interested in applied animal nutrition, specifically pasture-animal interactions and farming systems research.

EverGraze has helped with understanding how sustainability and productivity can go together.

– David Strong, Sheep Producer

Funding and collaborators

Evergraze was a Future Farms Industries CRC research and delivery partnership. More information about the funding and collaborators can be found at evergraze.com.au

Charles Sturt University aims to create a world worth living in

This research is contributing to the development of sustainable solutions in agriculture and water resources while enhancing the biodiversity of our environments and strengthening ecosystems

More information…