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Calala, Australia

Scott J.M.,University of New England of Australia | Behrendt K.,Charles Sturt University | Colvin A.,Pine Grove | Scott F.,NSW Trade and Investment | And 12 more authors.
Animal Production Science | Year: 2013

The Cicerone Project conducted a grazed farmlet experiment on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, from July 2000 to December 2006, to address questions raised by local graziers concerning how they might improve the profitability and sustainability of their grazing enterprises. This unreplicated experiment examined three management systems at a whole-farmlet scale. The control farmlet (farmlet B) represented typical management for the region, with flexible rotational grazing and moderate inputs. A second farmlet (farmlet A) also used flexible rotational grazing but had a higher level of pasture renovation and soil fertility, while the third farmlet (farmlet C) had the same moderate inputs as farmlet B but employed intensive rotational grazing. The present paper provides an integrated overview of the results collated from component papers and discusses the inferences that can be drawn from what was a complex, agroecosystem experiment. The measurements recorded both early and late in the experiment were tabulated for each of the farmlets and compared with each other as relative proportions, allowing visual presentation on a common, indexed scale. Because of equivalent starting conditions, there was little difference between farmlets early in the experimental period (2000-01) across a wide array of measured parameters, including herbage mass, potential pasture growth rate, liveweight, wool production per head, stocking rate, gross margin and equity. Although the experiment experienced drier-than-average conditions, marked differences emerged among farmlets over time, due to the effects of treatments. During the latter half of the experimental period (2003-06), farmlet A showed numerous positive and a few negative consequences of the higher rate of pasture renovation and increased soil fertility compared with the other two farmlets. While intensive rotational grazing resulted in superior control of gastrointestinal nematodes and slightly finer wool, this system had few effects on pastures and no positive effects on sheep liveweights, wool production or stocking rate. Whereas farmlet A showed higher gross margins, it had a negative and lower short-term cash position than did farmlets B and C, due largely to the artificially high rate of pasture renovation undertaken on this farmlet during the experiment. Although farmlet B had the highest cash position at the end of the experiment, this came at a cost of the declining quality of its pastures. Modelling of the farmlet systems allowed the results to be considered over the longer timeframes needed to assess sustainability. Thus, returns on investment were compared over realistic amortisation periods and produced outcomes based on long-term climatic expectations which were compared with those that arose under the drier-than-average conditions experienced during the experimental period. The main factors responsible for lifting the productivity of farmlet A were the sowing of temperate species and increased soil fertility, which enhanced the amount of legume and increased pasture quality and potential pasture growth. The factor that affected farmlet C most was the low proportion of the farmlet grazed at any one time, with high stock density imposed during grazing, which decreased feed intake quality. The paper concludes that more profitable and sustainable outcomes are most likely to arise from grazing enterprises that are proactively managed towards optimal outcomes by maintaining sufficient desirable perennial grasses with adequate legume content, enhancing soil fertility and employing flexible rotational grazing. Source

Scott J.F.,NSW Trade and Investment | Cacho O.J.,University of New England of Australia | Scott J.M.,University of New England of Australia
Animal Production Science | Year: 2013

The Cicerone farmlet experiment, conducted on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia, explored aspects of profitability and sustainability under three different whole-farmlet management regimes. The 5-year period over which the treatments were measured occurred over a period of generally below-average rainfall, hence responses to management treatments were limited. A modelling approach was used to estimate profitability over a longer period representing the variable climate of the region. A stochastic discounted cash flow model was developed to estimate economic returns of two of the Cicerone management system treatments scaled up from the farmlet scale (53 ha) to the size of a typical commercial farm in the region (920 ha) over a 20-year period. Several scenarios were used to estimate the commercial-scale returns under different rates of pasture improvement and stocking rates. Over the long-term, Farm A was found to be more profitable but also more risky (in terms of variation around the mean of cumulative discounted cash flow) than the 'typical' Farm B management system. If livestock managers choose to adopt a pasture improvement strategy based on renovating pastures and increasing soil fertility, they are more likely to achieve higher net worth with more moderate rates of pasture improvement than those explored on Farm A where a high rate of pasture improvement had been implemented in order to quickly differentiate treatments. Source

Crean J.,NSW Trade and Investment | Parton K.,Charles Sturt University | Mullen J.,Charles Sturt University | Jones R.,Asia West
Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics | Year: 2013

The state-contingent approach to production uncertainty presents a more general model than the conventional stochastic production approach. Here we investigate whether the state-contingent approach offers a tractable framework for representing climatic uncertainty at a farm level. We developed a discrete stochastic programming (DSP) model of a representative wheat-sheep (mixed) farm in the Central West of NSW. More explicit recognition of climatic states, and associated state-contingent responses, led to optimal farm plans that were more profitable on average and less prone to the effects of variations in climate than comparable farm plans based on the expected value framework. The solutions from the DSP model also appeared to more closely resemble farm land use than the equivalent expected value model using the same data. We conclude that there are benefits of adopting a state-contingent view of uncertainty, giving support to its more widespread application to other problems. © 2013 Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society Inc. and Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd. Source

Scott J.F.,NSW Trade and Investment | Scott J.M.,University of New England of Australia | Cacho O.J.,University of New England of Australia
Animal Production Science | Year: 2013

On the New South Wales Northern Tablelands, sheep, wool and beef cattle production account for most agricultural output. The industries have been challenged in recent years by environmental and economic factors and are therefore looking for modified or alternative livestock management systems that are capable of sustaining profitability. The Cicerone Project aimed to address these issues by comparing three different grazing and pasture improvement systems. Some recent livestock industry analyses have been based on gross margins which do not include overhead costs. This is an important limitation; economic analysis needs to report key whole-farm business performance measures since overhead costs can differ significantly between livestock management systems. A representative farm approach was used to compare the profitability of the three different livestock management systems. Commercial-scale whole-farm and cash flow analyses over a 5-year period were used to evaluate profitability. No particular system could be recommended to graziers because the test period was not sufficiently representative of the long-term climate to make an adequate assessment about their long-term profitability. Nevertheless, it is apparent that whole-farm level budgets are essential for comparing the overall profitability of different livestock management systems. It is concluded that analysts, consultants and graziers should use whole-farm and cash flow analyses to gauge profitability of different livestock management systems particularly where sustainability issues are important. Source

Khairo S.A.,NSW Trade and Investment | Hacker R.B.,Trangie Agricultural Research Center | Atkinson T.L.,Trangie Agricultural Research Center | Turnbull G.L.,Agriculture NSW
Rangeland Journal | Year: 2013

Feral goats (Capra hircus) are increasing in abundance and distribution in the semi-Arid and arid rangelands of New South Wales, and elsewhere in the southern rangelands. They present a conundrum for natural resource managers and policy-makers as they can be both an agricultural and environmental pest and an economic resource for landholders. This paper presents an economic analysis of a range of alternative approaches to feral goat management and assesses their implications for natural resource management policies. 'Opportunistic harvesting' and 'value-Added' strategies (the latter involving use of a paddock to increase the liveweight of feral goats before slaughter for meat) returned positive net benefits to landholders, whereas the strategy of 'no management' resulted in a negative net benefit if the overall stocking rate was held constant. The erection of goat-proof boundary fencing to enhance production from domestic livestock generated negative net benefits unless increases in stocking rates of domestic livestock could be achieved within the exclusion fencing through improved grazing management. The use of goat-proof fencing to establish an individual paddock for domestic livestock production returned positive net benefit for landholders but also required increases in domestic stocking rate to be competitive with the best feral goat harvesting strategy. The 'opportunistic harvesting' and 'value added' strategies are thus likely to be adopted by producers without financial incentive and could result in positive resource conservation outcomes if goat prices encourage harvesting. The 'no management' strategy will most likely promote resource degradation and should be discouraged. Strategies involving goat-proof fencing are likely to provide positive net benefits for landholders and achieve positive natural resource outcomes if associated with improved grazing management, and reduced density of feral goats outside the exclusion fencing. It is concluded that resource conservation benefits of feral goat control strategies may be positive, negative, or neutral depending on the management strategy adopted, the extent of goat-proof fencing, and the price of meat from feral goats. It is, therefore, difficult to rely on the commercial harvesting of feral goats to achieve resource conservation objectives. Public funds could be better used to support education and training in grazing management and provide incentives for achievement of measurable natural resource outcomes than to support infrastructure establishment for the harvesting of feral goats on private properties. Source

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