Time for livestock businesses to get a health check

By Corrie Grimmett

The Grazing Best Management Practice (BMP) program is improving the economic, social and environmental performance of the grazing industry.

The program is a voluntary, industry-led process that assists producers to identify improved practices that enhance the long-term profitability of their enterprise. As the program matures, it will also assist producers to identify opportunities and threats, as well as demonstrate sound environmental and ethical practices to the community.

Grazing BMP comprises of 157 standards that articulate a ‘below standard’, ‘at standard’, or ‘above standard’ response based on a self-actuated or workshop assessment, as a health check for their business.

Participants at a grazing BMP workshop.

The areas covered within this are:

– Soil health

– Animal health and welfare

– Animal production

– People and business

– Grazing land management

The standards within the program are often already familiar practices to producers and information pertaining to each standard are available to give a more thorough context as to why the standard has been asked. Grazing BMP has an accreditation system in conjunction with ISO19011 which enables producers to independently audit their businesses through a third party, against a set of core criteria within the program.

The program is complemented by a dynamic reporting tool that responds to community concerns with current, issue specific data, developed and ratified by independent industry professionals.

Through a breakdown of data into catchment regions, extension requirements are able to be identified to upskill graziers in areas of deficiency; this increases producer knowledge and also allows targeted extension by Grazing BMP staff whilst retaining anonymity within the data. Through a re-assessment process, conducted every two years, changes in producer’s practices is captured and this identifies which areas certain changes have occurred. This, in time, will allow for modelling of projected changes and how they affect the landscape, production and other farming practices.

As a general trend, the soil health module within Grazing BMP displays an interesting story, with a focus on the key areas of fertiliser use, soil biology, soil chemical properties, and soil physical properties.

Standards for these key areas can be found on www.bmpgrazing.com.au. As an industry, there is much room to improve on knowledge and practices for soil health, particularly in the areas of soil biology and soil chemical properties. Through targeted extension in soil organic matter, nutrient supply, salinity and soil pH, it is expected that producers will become more knowledgeable and upskill in these areas.

The program was developed by Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA), AgForce Queensland and the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (QDAFF) along with a producer reference group, and is supported by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP).

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