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Range Management Newsletter 13/1

 

March 2013 – Range Management Newsletter 13/1


FROM THE EDITOR

Noelene Duckett, 5 Amery Street, Ashburton VIC 3147. Email: aduckett7@msn.com

We begin the March newsletter with news from the ARS Council. Firstly. John Taylor and Carolyn Ireland discuss the outcomes from the two Council surveys conducted last year. Additionally, details of the Society’s AGM on 23 May are included – please note that nominations for the three vacant Council positions are being encouraged and are due 10 April. Why not consider nominating?

In addition, there are a couple of discussion papers. The first, by Chris Henggeler and Hugh Pringle, examines the relationship between rehabilitating degraded land and “bang for your buck”. In the second, Richard Silcock discusses varying interpretations of productivity in grazed mulga woodlands in good and bad seasons. I am sure that the authors of both of these articles would be very keen to receive feedback, so why not shoot them an email if you agree or not with what they are saying!

Following on from this, there are reports from the 2013 Meeting of the Society for Range Management, including the announcement of an SRM Outstanding Achievement Award to  John Taylor , current ARS Presiden(Congratulations!) and also an excellent article written by Julian Luke and originally published by The Land, on Ray Thompson’s successes with water ponding in western NSW.

Finally I would like to draw your attention to the call for book reviewers. This is an initiative that I am trying to get up and running so please consider volunteering to review either of the two publications suggested in this newsletter or other relevant rangeland publications. You may even receive a free copy of the publication for writing a review!

The next issue is due in July so please forward articles to me by late May/early June. How about contributing?
 

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FROM THE PRESIDENT

John Taylor, ARS President and Director, 37 Pioneer Crescent, Bellbowrie Qld 4070.
Email: taylamob@tpg.com.au

January and February 2013 have reminded us that we really do live and work in a ‘land of drought and flooding rains’, with temperature and rainfall records smashed in different parts of the rangelands. The biological and social consequences of these events will play out over the next few years.

Since the last newsletter, your Council has held an ‘out-of-session’ meeting to discuss the results of the two surveys we’ve conducted over the past 6 months, and to develop a response to the motion from the General Meeting regarding support for the Rangelands Australia educational initiative. A Committee of Council and Ordinary members, chaired by Council member Ben Forsyth, has been established to explore options for the continuation of the Rangeland Management program, and Council has now endorsed the terms of reference for this committee. The committee held its first meeting in February.

Council has also held two regular meetings. At these we considered policy and guidelines for advertising in ARS publications, recommendations for Advisory and Associate Editors for The Rangeland Journal, new appointments to the Publication Committee and progress in finding a new Chair of the Publications Committee. Other matters considered included establishment of ARS Facebook and Twitter sites, and a strategy for securing the ARS archives that have been stored at Middleback station, but, with the Defence Department taking over the station, must now be moved.

Council also considered revisions to the guidelines for travel grants and scholarships, and applications for travel grants. I am pleased to announce that Tiffany Carroll-Macdonald (UTS) and Helen King (ANU) are the 2013 recipients of ARS Travel Grants. Congratulations to both, and we look forward to reading the reports of their field work and conference presentations.

Finally, Council considered the report of the 17th Biennial (Kununurra) Conference. The field trips, program and networking were widely valued. On behalf of Council, I congratulate the Organizing Committee (chaired by Paul Novelly) and Meeting Masters, the Conference Organizer, for a job well done. I would particularly like to thank Paul for a detailed and insightful review of the conference, and note that the committee’s recommendations will be a very valuable guide to future conference organizers.

While we have a conference format that suits many, some suggestions for changes to the conference program (e.g. smaller group discussions of issues in more detail, more time for questions, etc.) and our surveys of ways the ARS might better serve its members (e.g. being more proactive, networking from remote localities, making conferences more interactive, online webinars and forums, etc.), made me think about the possibility of a different approach for our 2014 meeting in the NT. Getting together is highly valued by our members, but the cost of travel often limits participation. So, let’s have a face-to-face session, but alongside this why not also use digital communication and other means of interacting to draw in more stakeholders for more detailed discussions of key issues? I’d value your thoughts on this idea, and look forward to your responses and ideas on re-jigging the format and how we might effect this if you think it has merit.

The next meeting of Council is in late March. At this, we will be considering rates of advertising in our publications, the search for a new Chair of the Publications Committee, establishment and management of Facebook and Twitter sites, the Survey results and strategies to meet members’ needs, the location and theme(s) for the 2014 ARS Conference and (hopefully) responses to the conference format ideas (above).

On behalf of Council, I would like to wish you all the very best for the remainder of 2013.  

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THE VALUE AND OBJECTIVES OF YOUR SOCIETY: CHANGING EXPECTATIONS?

John A Taylor, ARS President and Director, 37 Pioneer Crescent, Bellbowrie Qld 4070.
Email: taylamob@tpg.com.au

Carolyn Ireland, ARS Secretary, 13 Woodland Close, Aldgate SA 5142.
Email: rangelands.exec@gmail.com

Surveys

Two surveys, conducted by Council over the last eight months, have provided much food for thought on these issues. The first was a survey of members in April-May 2012, to which 58 responded (~20% membership without a reminder). The majority of these were scientists/researchers, extension officers and consultants, and there was a concern that the views captured were largely those of the traditional and older membership and not the younger generation and/or newer members such as NRM/Landcare facilitators, pastoralists, etc. This insight, and the realization that only about 40% of conference participants were current members of the Society, prompted the survey conducted at Kununurra in September 2012. Seventy-seven responded to this survey (~45% delegates, ~30% of whom were not ARS members), with the main respondents being scientists/ researchers, pastoralists/ graziers, environmentalists/ environmental officers and Landcare/NRM officers.

This summary of the findings also highlights steps that Council is taking to address some of the issues raised.

Important benefits of membership

In both surveys, the Biennial conference, The Rangeland Journal and Range Management Newsletter were identified as ‘very important’ benefits of membership, with web-based information on the rangelands also seen to be ‘important’. However in the survey conducted at Kununurra, electronic access to conference proceedings and web-based information were rated ‘very important’ by nonmembers (potential new members?).

Our members ranked the ways they prefer to stay ‘up-to-date’ as face-to-face meetings, publications/ reports, websites and networks. Potential members ranked websites as most important, with face-to-face meetings and publications/ reports equally important to them.

In Australia, full membership of the ARS costs $100 for an individual (includes GST) and $80 for a student, and 97% of members believe that this represents good value for the money. Beyond professional accreditation, there were very few responses to a question about additional member services. Given this feedback, the question about what people would be prepared to pay for the additional services becomes largely irrelevant.

The Society has a small reserve, and we asked how these funds might be used. There was strong support for more travel grants/scholarships and youth and producer events, moderate support for more marketing and promotion of the ARS/rangelands, and little support for sponsorship of other rangeland events/services or Council member development (e.g. governance training).

Relevance of our Objectives

The Objectives of the Society, set almost 40 years ago, were:

  1. To promote the advancement of the science and art of using Australia’s rangeland resources for all purposes commensurate with their continued productivity and stability
  2. To encourage and develop an awareness of the need to conserve the inherent resources of Australia’s rangeland areas
  3. To encourage and reward the study of rangeland science and improved rangeland management
  4. To provide a means for the interchange of ideas and information amongst Society members and with those of allied disciplines concerned with rangelands
  5. To hold periodical meetings of Society members in different parts of Australia, and
  6. To publish a journal for distribution among Society members and other interested persons and bodies.

Eighty-eight percent of member respondents thought the objectives were still generally relevant, yet 22% offered suggestions to make them more relevant today. These included a greater emphasis on multiple and non-agricultural uses of rangelands, adaptive management, social aspects of the rangelands, indigenous land management and the impact of policy on remote Australia. There were even some quite specific wording suggestions, such as ‘maintenance or improvement of rangeland resources and their sustainable utilization’ (Obj #1), ‘physical and biological resources’ (Obj #2), and ‘the study of all disciplines relevant to the sustainable use of the rangelands and the practical application of results’ (Obj #3).

What do you think of these suggestions, and what still needs to be addressed for greater relevance in the 21st century? Depending on your responses, the next step might be re-working the objectives, further consultation with the membership, and presenting revised objectives for formal endorsement at an AGM. So, please don’t hesitate to tell us what you think!

While 86% of member respondents thought that the Society was making a significant contribution regarding its objectives, almost 30% of respondents made valuable suggestions on ways the Society could improve its performance and impact. These included: raising our profile, greater inclusion (especially of managers and indigenous people), greater advocacy, and a greater focus on social issues and policy influencing the rangelands. It was noted that the Society has not done a good job of rewarding improved rangeland management. We had thought that there was an opportunity for this through the Society’s Travel Grants and Scholarships, but perhaps this is not specific enough. Suggestions about raising the Society’s profile inevitably referred to social media, and Council is currently working with the Publications Committee on establishing a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and planning further enhancements to the website.

Demographics

The Kununurra survey sought information on the age of respondents, how long they have worked in the rangelands, and how long they see themselves continuing to work in the rangelands.

Eighty percent of members were aged 45-65+, and 75% of them have worked in the rangelands for 11-21+ years. By contrast, 70% of non-members were aged 26-55 years, and 50% of them had worked in the rangelands for less than 10 years. This suggests that we are not attracting or retaining younger members, and raises the obvious question – why not?

Looking ahead, 42% of members see themselves continuing to work in the rangelands for another 10 years, but it was very disturbing to note that 70% of the younger non-members also see themselves as only working in the rangelands for another 10 years! This suggests that while valuable experience will be retained to some extent, we face major problems in retaining the next generation of rangeland managers, advisors/facilitators and researchers, and the fresh ideas they could bring.

Our surveys do not provide insights into the cause of this looming problem. In developing strategies to address it Council would appreciate hearing of relevant studies and reports, and, of course, informed opinions.

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NOTICE OF THE 2013 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE AUSTRALIAN RANGELAND SOCIETY

The 2013 Annual General Meeting of the Australian Rangeland Society will be held on:
 

Thursday 23rd May 2013

at 5 pm (Qld time)
at 37 Pioneer Crescent, Bellbowrie, Queensland, 4070
 
The agenda will include:
  1. Open Meeting
  2. Apologies
  3. Minutes of the 2012 Annual General Meeting 
  4. Receive the President’s report
  5. Receive the Financial Reports
  6. Elections for office bearers of the Society*
  7. Motions on notice** 
  8. General business
 
The AGM will be followed by light refreshments.  Please let President John Taylor (07) 3202 7632 taylamob@tpg.com.au know if you will be attending in person.  

*Elections for office bearers of the Society

Section 16 of the Articles of Association of the Society provide for elections in each alternate year beginning in 1983 commencing at the end of the next Annual General Meeting. Positions are held for 4 years.  The officers of the Society are President, Finance and Audit Officer, Secretary and up to five General Council Members.  Accordingly nominations are called for three of these positions for a term of four years as set out in the Articles.
 
The name of the present holder is shown along with an expression of their intention to nominate.
 
  • President                                 John Taylor – continuing Member

  • Secretary                                Carolyn Ireland – will nominate as Secretary

  • Finance and Audit Officer        Peter Marin – continuing Member

  • General Council Members        Annabel Walsh – continuing Member

                                                     Graeme Tupper – continuing Member

                                                     Ben Forsyth – continuing Member

                                                     Kate Masters – will nominate as a General Council Member

                                                     Larissa Lauder – will nominate as a General Council Member

Other nominations for the three vacant positions on Council are strongly encouraged.

Any financial member wishing to nominate for a position on Council must ensure their nomination form is lodged with the Secretary by 10 April 2011. Nomination forms are available from the website http://www.austrangesoc.com.au/site/ 
 

**Motions on notice are set out in this notice.

Any financial member wishing to place a motion on notice before the Annual General Meeting must ensure that the signed motion is lodged with the Secretary by 10 April 2013.
 
Motions should be emailed to:
                                 Dr Carolyn Ireland, Secretary
                                 The Australian Rangeland Society
                                 rangelands.exec@gmail.com
 
 

Motions on Notice

 
Motion 1
 
Solvency resolution
‘That the Directors have reason to believe that the Australian Rangeland Society Ltd will be able to pay its debts as and when they become due and payable.’
 
 
Motion 2
 
Alterations to the Guidelines of the ARS Travel Grant and Scholarship
 
Council of the Australian Rangeland Society (the Society) recommends that changes be made to the Guidelines of the Travel Grant and Scholarship to allow the following:
  • Restrict the Travel Grant and Scholarship to Members of the Society who have been financial Members for at least 12 months.
  • Increase the amount to funds available in each year from $2000 to $6000
Section 15 of the current Guidelines of the Travel Grant and Section 16 of the current Guidelines of the Scholarship state that the Guidelines may be altered by a majority vote at a special general meeting or an Annual General Meeting after notice has been duly served. 
 
Proposed changes to the Guidelines will be published as a separate document in the Range Management Newsletter (see later in this issue) and on the website.
 
The proposals to amend the Guidelines to enable these alterations will be put as one Motion to the 2013 Annual General Meeting. 

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BOOK REVIEWERS WANTED!

Noelene Duckett, Editor – Range Management Newsletter, 5 Amery Street, Ashburton VIC 3147. 
Email: aduckett7@msn.com

We need you help!  We are currently seeking names of people who would be interested in reviewing new and interesting publications for the benefit of ARS members. The publications may be on a range of topics related broadly to the interests of our membership. It is expected that reviews will be completed in a timely manner, will be around 500-1000 words in length, and will be suitable for publishing in an upcoming issue of the Range Management Newsletter.

While some publishers provide their books to the Society for review, we would be keen to include any recently released rangeland publications that may be of interest. If you would like to suggest a book or report for reviewing, or would like to submit a review yourself, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

•••••

Currently we are seeking reviewers for the following new CSIRO Publications books:

Desert Lake: Art, Science and Stories from Paruku (Edited by Steve Morton, Mandy Martin, Kim Mahood and John Carty).  Published March 2013

http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/21/pid/6848.htm

Publishers Description: Desert Lake is a book combining artistic, scientific and Indigenous views of a striking region of north-western Australia. Paruku is the place that white people call Lake Gregory. It is Walmajarri land, and its people live on their Country in the communities of Mulan and Billiluna.

This is a story of water. When Sturt Creek flows from the north, it creates a massive inland Lake among the sandy deserts. Not only is Paruku of national significance for waterbirds, but it has also helped uncover the past climatic and human history of Australia. Paruku's cultural and environmental values inspire Indigenous and other artists, they define the place as an enduring home, and have led to its declaration as an Indigenous Protected Area.

The Walmajarri people of Paruku understand themselves in relation to Country, a coherent whole linking the environment, the people and the Law that governs their lives. These understandings are encompassed by the Waljirri or Dreaming and expressed through the songs, imagery and narratives of enduring traditions. Desert Lake is embedded in this broader vision of Country and provides a rich visual and cross-cultural portrait of an extraordinary part of Australia.


Nature and Farming: Sustaining Native Biodiversity in Agricultural Landscapes (Written by David Norton and Nick Reid). Due out in April 2013

http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/21/pid/6713.htm

Publisher’s Description: Conserving and enhancing native biodiversity on farms brings many benefits as well as providing many challenges. Nature and Farming explains why it is important to sustain native plants and animals in agricultural landscapes, and outlines the key issues in developing and implementing practical approaches to safeguarding native biodiversity in rural areas.

The book considers the range of ecological and agricultural issues that determine what native biodiversity occurs in farmland and how it can be secured. Many inspiring case studies are presented where innovative approaches towards integrating biodiversity and farm management have been successful, resulting in win–win outcomes for both nature and society. In the integration and synthesis of these case studies lies the kernel of a new paradigm for nature conservation on farms. Although the book focuses on biodiversity conservation on Australian and New Zealand farms, the issues and approaches discussed are applicable to many other developed countries, especially in Europe and North America

Please let me know by email if you would be interested in reviewing either of these books. You will receive a gratis copy of the publication sent to you and you will be expected to submit your review for inclusion into the Range Management Newsletter within 8 weeks. 

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WHY REHABILITATE DEGRADED RANGELANDS?

Chris Henggeler,, Kachana Pastoral Company, Kachana Station, Via Kununurra WA 6743.
Email: kachana@bigpond.com

Hugh Pringle, Ecosystem Management Understanding (EMU)™, Adjunct Professor, Edith Cowan University, PO Box 8522, Alice Springs NT 0871.
Email: hpringle1@bigpond.com

In the current economic climate many pastoralists across Australia work hard to maintain slim positive gross-margins.  Thus costs relating to rehabilitation of land are often assessed in terms of short-term “bang for the buck”.  Rehabilitation is made increasingly attractive if taxpayers meet the cost of repairing legacies inherited by incumbents, but otherwise rehabilitation might be regarded as utopian and “bad for business”.  Here we try to offer some complementary perspectives that might convince pastoralists that regenerating the productive capacity of the land may indeed be critical and rewarding for those who seek a long-term relationship with their land.

Traditional soil conservation works in the Australian rangelands have been focused mostly on the most degraded, previously most productive areas that now usually lack topsoil as reviewed in the special edition of the Australian Rangeland Journal in 1989. This essentially “sod-busting the symptoms” approach had limited success and was most likely unsupportable from a focused scrutiny of Return on Investment. It did however demonstrate a widely held care for rangelands and a sense of responsibility to repair the mistakes of the past.

Presumably this strategy aimed to restore productivity of previously most productive lands, but which had lost their topsoil. This may account for the relatively short period of focused funding on rangeland rehabilitation during the Decade of Landcare. It didn’t really bring about positive change at the scales that would make a substantial, enduring difference.

Common features of the rangeland Decade of Landcare rehabilitation works included that they:

  1. Were conceived by, planned and implemented by Government experts
  2. Addressed severely degraded areas
  3. Were based on engineering principles and heavy machinery
  4. Lacked even local catchment system assessment and wider context
  5. Sometimes allowed most of the water flow to bypass the works in adjacent, untreated gully channels.

In contrast, the Ecosystem Management Understanding (EMU)™ project encourages pastoralists to save the healthiest of their best country first and work their way through to the conventional basket case areas, even if that takes more than a generation. It is driven by the principle of “bang for the buck”; the idea being that money is better spent saving healthiest and most productive country than rehabilitating degraded areas often devoid of topsoil. This approach only makes sense if assessed in terms of the cost of not doing the work (future lost production and income).The rehabilitation component of EMU Project focuses on saving that which is still intact and in danger. The primary focus of rehabilitation is on safeguarding productivity, rather than enhancing it, which is dealt with in complementary grazing strategies.

This polarisation of perspectives is perhaps overly simplistic on a real property and perhaps discounts the importance of earlier efforts in terms of the realisation of degradation legacies the industry now faces. Perhaps the criteria for deciding whether or not to invest in rehabilitation need to be expanded beyond either “save the best” or “resuscitate the worst”. Additional commercial considerations may be enlightening, but so to would be personal issues:

  1. “Saving money in the long-run” is in many instances a better bang for the buck than actually “making” the same amount of money. (Every dollar of profit comes to us only after tax; therefore reducing currently hidden costs by reversing undesirable trends in a landscape may often offer a better ROI than increasing productivity in stable country.)
  2. Adding value to a property by securing or increasing its productive capacity (e.g. through the harnessed use of the biological energy in our live-stock) can make good commercial sense (especially when market conditions are not ideal).
  3. Pastoralists may choose to fix an area for which they feel personally accountable, even if the investment will not return for many years.
  4. Pastoralists may choose only to repair land if the Government funds it.
  5. Some pastoralists have chosen to repair their land without subsidy from Governmentas a form of long-term insurance policy (Bastin 1991).

“ ‘Sustainable practices’ are not good enough if our resource-base is impaired. What we need are ‘regenerative practices’.” Dr Christine Jones - addressing the International Holistic Management Conference in Orange 1999.

As with the case reported by Bastin, Chris Henggeler had to rehabilitate his land in order to generate an income. The aim on Kachana Station is to gradually rebuild former levels of productivity into the landscape to create a commercially scaled viable pastoral enterprise. Techniques used are based on the idea of bio-mimicry: use the natural capacity of a functional herd to mulch, evenly fertilise and prune plants, thereby building and maintaining a healthy balance of soils, plants and animals.

When standing back to view landscapes in an holistic context we need to step beyond commercial thinking. We dare not ignore those parts of a landscape that offer us little or no immediate financial return.

Whilst short-term financial justification will always influence expenditure of time, energy and capital, we also need to maintain a bigger-picture perspective. With managing land there comes a custodianship-responsibility. If the land we manage has experienced loss of biodiversity or impairment of ecosystem function somewhere in the “80%”of areas that do not contribute significantly towards commercial outcomes, at some stage the hidden costs of not responding will have financial repercussions on our activities. Historically this catch-up process tends to happen in a drought, in conjunction with a natural disaster or in a down-turn in commodity-prices. At that stage it is often too late to respond effectively.

It would appear that some contemporary pastoralists are unwilling or financially unable to address rangeland rehabilitation that they do not feel responsible for: The legacy issue and who pays?

The dawning political acceptance of environmental services related to biodiversity, carbon sequestration and water conservation offers land managers ways to tackle the widespread legacy of land-degradation challenges in a proactive manner. Some new opportunities may forgo pastoral production on the basis of conventional wisdom that “all grazing is bad” for the ecosystem and that grazing management should seek to minimise its ecological footprint. That is, that managing grazing pressure is entirely a risk minimisation process; that grazing cannot provide and enhance ecosystem services. Perhaps this “wisdom” is more ideological than realistic?

There may also be opportunities for increasing livestock production AND accessing new ecosystem service benefits if the ideas of Allan Savory and other non-conventional practical thinkers(Bastin 1991)can be applied successfully to your rangelands.

In conclusion, we challenge land managers to redefine or expand existing concepts of ‘commercial justification’ for rangeland rehabilitation. Clearly there are many ways of valuing investment in rehabilitation. What they all have in common is a specific value to the pastoralists affected and their businesses. And in most cases, their relationship with the land that supports them.

There is no “right answer” that “best practice” can prescribe for pastoralists. The right answer is a very private issue and will hopefully resonate with what the people involved want from their life on that piece of rangeland. It was our intent to expand and enhance that assessment process.

Finally, we urge pastoralists to test “new knowledge” (that has served other land managers in other regions) for its local relevance. Such often marginalised ideas may give you better “bang for the buck” than eloquent reasoning that has not yet been field-tested. That is whether your “bang” is dollars generated, dollars saved, land value appreciation or just a better relationship with your land and the people you work with.

We feel that land-managers have some exciting new information to choose from.


References

Bastin, G. (1991). Rangeland reclamation on Artatinga Station, central Australia. Australian Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 4: 18-25. 

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A DEFENCE OF MULGA COUNTRY

Richard Silcock, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, GPO Box 267, Brisbane  Qld  4001.  
Email: Richard.Silcock@daff.qld.gov.au
 
 
I was reading a research article about mulga country in the Journal of Vegetation Science because I have a long-standing association with such country, particularly in SW Queensland.  In it was a colour image of ‘typical’ mulga country from the Warrego district.  The caption beneath the picture says something that I strongly disagree with and would like to refute.  I cannot reproduce it here for fear of breaching copyright laws, so I provide another that is similar in its depiction of mulga density and the associated herbaceous layer vegetation (Photo 1).  
 
 
 
 
Photo 1.  My photograph of mulga country akin to that in the journal article, but in drier times.
 
 
Those who wish to see the journal picture should find their way to the journal’s website and find Volume 22, pages 997-1008 (2011) and the article entitled “Plant species richness responses to grazing protection and degradation history in a low productivity landscape.”  The caption for the contentious image says: “Fig. 2.  Typical mulga (Acacia aneura) woodland grazed by domestic stock.  This photo was taken after abundant summer rain and the lack of ground cover conveys why these dry forests are perceived as degraded.  Note the presence of perennial grass tussocks.”
 
Everything in that caption is basically correct (if you take the IPCC’s definition of what constitutes a forest) apart from the word ‘abundant’.  The image, in my opinion, illustrated anything but what mulga country looks like after abundant summer rain.  I showed it to a few colleagues and they agreed. Photo 2 is an image series courtesy of Steven Bray of a mulga monitoring site over recent times (1998 to 2007) that shows the contrast between good and poor seasons in grazed mulga woodland.
 
 
 
 

Photo 2.  Time sequence photos of mulga country under different rainfall conditions.  Photos (from top to bottom) were taken in 1998 (fair rainfall), in 2000 (abundant rainfall) and in 2007 (drought). 

 

I would also refer readers to a long published paper by Ebersohn (1970) who measured mulga pasture yields after abundant summer rains at several sites and estimated that their mean standing dry matter yield was about 1200kg/ha.  Beale (1973) also sampled mulga pastures around Charleville over a number of years and found standing pasture yields to exceed 500kg/ha most of the time and to reach over 1000 kg/ha in a good season.  If you use the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry pasture standard images (futurebeef.com.au/topics/pastures-and-forage-crops/pasture-photo-standards/ ) I would generously estimate the standing DMY of the country depicted in the journal at about 150 kg/ha.  While you are there have a look at a representation of 1000 kg/ha of mulga pasture.

Some mulga country may be degraded but its forage potential after abundant summer rain is far greater than is shown in that journal image.

This disagreement also raises the issue of statistical reliability of information presented in pictorial form in scientific papers. Confidence levels around means or regression trends are routinely required but images and their associated captions are not always subjected to the same scrutiny.

 

References

Beale, I. F. (1973). Tree density effects on yields of herbage and tree components in south west Queensland mulga (Acacia aneura F. Muell.) scrub. Tropical Grasslands 7: 135 – 142.

Ebersohn, J. P. (1970). Herbage production from native grasses and sown pastures in south-west Queensland. Tropical Grasslands 4: 37 – 41. 

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TAYLOR RECEIVES OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR RESEARCH/ACADEMIA FROM THE SRM

Press Release from the Society for Range Management 

 

 

Dr John A. Taylor, Bellbowrie, Queensland, Australia, received the Outstanding Achievement Award for Research/Academia at the Society for Range Management’s (SRM) 66th Annual Meeting held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, February 2-8, 2013.  The Outstanding Achievement Award is presented by the Society for Range Management for outstanding achievement to members and other qualified individuals and groups working with rangelands.
Through his research and science management roles, Dr Taylor has made important contributions to rangeland management in Australia and around the world. His career as a scientist and administrator in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) resulted in a rangeland research program focused on ecological sustainability that continues to have an important influence globally.

However, Dr Taylor’s most significant contributions have come as Director of Rangelands Australia. His passion and energy have been the driving factors in building a successful center focused on the development of new information, a new program, new courses and new methods of delivery to enhance learning for both traditional and non-traditional students. This program has become a global model for creating networks of knowledge and support that link scientists and practitioners.

Dr Taylor had the vision and direction to create Rangelands Australia, a ground-breaking post-graduate rangeland education initiative that has won several national education awards.  The Range Science Education Council (RSEC) adopted several of the approaches used by Rangelands Australia in their recent successful application for a USDA-Higher Education Challenge Grant which garnered $1 million to “Reposition Rangeland Education for a Changing World.”  Dr Taylor is also a key member in a USDA-International Science grant submitted by the Western Rangeland Partnership that is creating an international internet information portal focusing on rangelands.

Dr Taylor’s vision includes rangeland management not only as a part of college curriculum and professional training, but as an important element of rangeland conservation, agricultural enterprise management and government policy.

It was with great honour that the Society for Range Management presented Dr John A. Taylor with a 2013 Outstanding Achievement Award for Research/Academia. 

 

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66TH MEETING OF THE SOCIETY FOR RANGE MANAGEMENT

John A Taylor, ARS President and Director, 37 Pioneer Crescent, Bellbowrie Qld 4070.
Email: taylamob@tpg.com.au

Kate Masters, PO BOX 505, Mt Isa Qld 4825
Email: katemasters76@yahoo.com

This meeting was held from 2nd to 8th February 2013 in Oklahoma City Oklahoma. The five days of meetings and conference sessions were attended by around 1200 people, including almost 400 university and high school students. Unfortunately, numbers of agency attendees were down by some 200-300 because of the uncertainty around US Federal and State budgets, but many came anyway.

Photo 1. Oklahoma City, host city for the 66th meeting of the Society for Range Management. The slogan for the OKC conference was "Native America, Native Rangelands," with the theme being "The Future of Rangeland Fire in a Changing World."

 

As far as we know, just five Australians were in attendance - two having presentation roles and another a workshop facilitation role. The presenters included David Bowman (UTas) and Sally Leigo (CRC-REP/NT DPIF). David’s talk was on ’Had Fire been included in the early development of Ecology’ in the plenary session on ‘The Future of Rangeland Fire in a Changing World’. Sally’s talk was on ‘Shifting into the Driver’s Seat – Women of the Australian Rangelands Driving Change’ in the symposium on ‘Women as Change Agents in the World’s Rangelands’. Both presentations were challenging and very well received. The abstracts of these and other presentations in the four forums, 10 symposia, 20 workshops, 14 technical sessions and two poster sessions are available on the SRM website http://www.rangelands.org/oklahoma_city2013/program.html.

 

Photo 2.  Presenters at the Symposium for “Women as change agents in the world’s rangelands” at the 66th SRM meeting.  Australian Sally Liego is first on the left; the other presenters spoke about women and their roles in the rangelands of Afghanistan, Bolivia, Chile, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia and the USA.

 

Forums included two Producer fora, a Ranch Stewardship and a Native American forum. One of the Producer Forums addressed a very topical issue in both the US and Australia: Successful Ranching - Coping with the energy industry. Symposia included: Targeted grazing; Global change research program - National climate assessment 2013; Women as change agents in the world’s rangelands; Feral Pigs on rangelands - The good, the bad and the ugly; and Adaptive management of rangelands - Science, practice and partnership. Workshops included topics such as: Preparing for the next big wildfire season; Coping with drought on rangelands; Conservation planning for ranchers transitioning to organic grazing; Sustainable ranch management - Monitoring, assessment and business planning; and Revitalizing rangeland education: A plan for the future. The latter workshop included reports of the outputs of adaptations of Rangelands Australia’s curriculum development processes which have recently been implemented in the US. The technical sessions included the usual sessions on Inventory, monitoring and assessment; Remote sensing and technology; Ecology; Grazing ecology and management; Fire ecology and management; Invasive species and weed management; Vegetation management and restoration; Economics, extension and policy; Assessment and monitoring of riparian areas; Wildlife habitat and management.

Contact was made with the leaders of SRMs Young Professionals Conclave, and it is hoped that stronger interactions between young professionals in Australia and the US will develop. Council members Ben Forsyth and Kate Masters will be following up on this. The conference also included a Job Fair with workshops on preparing for interviews and career development, and advertisements for 32 University, 54 Government and 12 Private Enterprise positions in US rangelands.

A highlight of the conference was the ‘Wild Women of Range’ social. This is an informal group of enthusiastic and fun-loving women that meets to nurture and support young range professionals and to recognize their colleagues. Induction requires, and most of the entertainment is based on, spontaneous completion of the statement ‘You know you are a wild woman of range if …’. A few of the outstanding responses on the night were ‘You know you are a wild woman of range when your anatomy classes started when you were a kid butchering sheep, cattle, pigs, goats and a camel’; ‘You know you are a wild woman of range if you can change the oil and the tyres on your truck better than your boyfriend’; and ‘You know you are a wild woman of range if you can scientifically name all the flowers in your native bouquet’.

Awards were conferred on two Americans who would be known to many Australians – Rod Heitschmidt and Doug Johnson. Rod received the Renner Award, the Society’s highest award for sustained contributions to range management. Doug received the Chapline Research Award in recognition of exceptional and sustained research accomplishments. In accepting his award Doug reminded the audience of an often used quote from Don Burnside that ’behind every successful man is an extremely surprised woman’. This comment nearly brought the house down, and had Doug’s wife Kathy chuckling for days!!

Overall, it was a good meeting. Good venue and facilities, good presentations, lively networking and, importantly for us, no snow or ice. The pre and post-conference tours were excellent. Our only criticism is that there were too many conflicting concurrent sessions, but then that’s our problem!

Looking ahead, the next SRM meeting will be held in Orlando Florida from 7th to 14th February 2014. The topics of symposia, workshops, etc. won’t be known until September-October 2013. However, the International Affairs Committee is planning a symposium on Tropical Rangelands to which some Australians might like to contribute. David and Sally made a mark in 2013, and it would be nice to see some of the other ground-breaking work in Australia featured in Orlando.

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NYNGAN POND PIONEER WORTH WEIGHT IN GOLD

 

When Ray Thompson arrived in Nyngan in the mid-1980s, he only planned to stay for the life of a project to rehabilitate scalded earth using a technique called water ponding.  Almost three decades later he is still there, and as Julian Luke reports, taking his mission around the world.

Please click on the links below to read the story:

Ray Thompson article page 1

Ray Thompson article page 2

Please note that this article first appeared in The Land and has been republished with the permission of Fairfax Agricultural Media.  Ray Thompson has been a member of the Australian Rangeland Society since 2010.

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AW HOWARD TRUST AWARDS DUE MARCH 28TH

Applications for grants from the AW Howard Trust are now open. The AW Howard Memorial Trust annually awards the following three classes of grants relating to pasture research:

  • travel grants are allocated to allow participation in international conferences (noting that the 22nd International Grasslands Congress will be held in Sydney in September 2013). Up to $3,500 each may be provided for travel grants to assist scientists to undertake overseas study tours and attend conferences
  • research fellowships in the form of top up postgraduate stipends of $5,000 per annum for up to 3 years
  • grants-in-aid up to $5,000 to Australian organisations, associations, communities or persons that seek financial aid for projects relating to pasture research

Two Specialist Study Awards are made biennially or at a frequency determined by the Trust:

  • Australian Grazing or Rangeland Extension Consultants, Advisers and Agribusiness Specialists Award; and
  • Australian Graziers or Rangeland Pastoralists Award

Both these Awards are aimed at study tours either in Australia or overseas to examine successful grazing systems and practices that are perceived to have economic, social and environmental benefits to Australian pastoral industries and rural communities. They are aimed at promoting producer and adviser excellence and leadership. The value of each Award may be up to $20,000.

The Amos W Howard Medal and Oration is also awarded biennially by the Trust.

Further information and application forms are available from: http://www.sardi.sa.gov.au/employment/awhoward

Applications opened on 3 January 2013 and close on 28 March 2013. Applicants will be notified of the outcome by the end of May 2013.

Conditions

Notification of these Awards were published in "The Australian" newspapers on Saturday, 2 February 2013.

Applicants must have been continuously resident in Australia for the past three years or have permanent residency status in Australia.

Applications for both Study Awards will be competitively assessed by the Trust on merit from a written and signed application form that can be sourced from the Trust website: http://www.sardi.sa.gov.au/employment/awhoward

Each application must have written letters of support from two knowledgeable referees familiar with the applicant that clearly states how the applicant is viewed within the industry and how rural communities and grazing industries would benefit from the proposed Study Award being granted.

At the conclusion of the Study Award the successful applicant must prepare a report describing the main outcomes and highlights of the visits undertaken and innovations that may have relevance to Australian grazing or rangeland industries. The report will be published in the AIAST Journal and will be available to Australian Grassland Societies and rural media.  

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2013 ARS MEMBERSHIP RATES

2013 Membership Rates; GST inclusive, $15 will be deducted if paid before 1st April

                                                                                         Australia           Overseas Airmail

Individual or Family

  • Full (Journal + Newsletter)/Student                $115/$95              $140/$115
  • Part (Newsletter only)/Student                           $75/$60                $85/$65

Company

  • Full (Journal + Newsletter)                                   $150                      $180
  • Part (Newsletter only)                                             $90                        $105

* Please note that the RMN will only be available electronically to members except those who pay an additional $15 membership subscription to receive a printed copy of each issue - see note below under the heading Membership Subscription Rates for 2013

New members are encouraged to join the Society via the ARS website (www.austrangesoc.com.au) and renewing members should also pay their 2013 dues through the website, if possible.  A renewing member should logon using their Username, which is their email address as in the ARS database, and their Password, which is “new login xxxx”, xxxx being the member’s membership number.  If you do not know your membership number, please contact Graeme Tupper by email, grmtupper@yahoo.com.au. Some members may have changed their Password in the database, in which case, Graeme Tupper will not know it. If you encounter problems in logging on, contact Graeme Tupper.

  • All rates are quoted in AUSTRALIAN currency and must be paid in AUSTRALIAN currency.
  • Membership is for the calendar year 1st January to 31st December. New member subscriptions paid after 1st October are deemed as payment for the following year.

Any member who has not paid his/her subscription by 31st March of the financial year for which it is payable shall be deemed unfinancial, and all his/her rights and privileges as a member of the Society are suspended until the subscription is paid.

Membership Subscription Rates for 2013

The 2013 Subscription Rates remain as for 2012.  For members who wish to receive a printed copy of the RMN, an additional $15 membership subscription will be required, except for members who do not have an email address, who will continue to receive a printed copy as part of their standard membership fee. Any enquiries relating to this should be directed to Graeme Tupper, Subscription Manager, grmtupper@yahoo.com.au  

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NEW MEMBERS

John Wilkinson – Coleambally NSW

Lester Pahl - Toowoomba Qld

Steve Blake - Perth WA

Alison Bohannan - Mount Isa Qld

Matthew Tighe - Armidale NSW

Darian Mckenzie - Gracemere Qld

David Blood - Geraldton WA

Mark Alchin – Newman WA 

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PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE GUIDELINES OF THE TRAVEL GRANT AND SCHOLARSHIP

 

The Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Travel Grant

 
Name
 
1. It shall be known as the Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Travel Grant. 
 
Purpose
 
2. The Grant is intended to assist an eligible person or persons to attend a meeting, conference, or congress which deals with the art or science of managing rangelands; or to assist an eligible person or persons with travel or transport costs to investigate a topic connected with range management or to implement a program of rangeland investigation not already being undertaken. The Grant is available for overseas travel, and or travel within Australia. It is not intended for subsistence expenses.
 
Determination
 
3. The Grant will be awarded, or not awarded, by Council on the merits of a written application (not exceeding 1000 words) clearly setting out the relevance of the applicant’s proposal in meeting the aims of the Society. Failure to comply with these guidelines may mean rejection of an application.
 
Conditions
 
4. Applications may be submitted at any time but will only be considered by Council at the first scheduled regular Council Meeting after the closing date for applications of 30 November each calendar year, to be granted in the following calendar year. Applications must be submitted on the form entitled “Application Form for Travel Grant or Scholarship”.
 
5. One or more Travel Grants can be awarded in a calendar year. The maximum amount available for distribution in a calendar year is  up to $6000 based on relevance, innovation and merit.
 
6. Applications should include details of costs and set out precisely how the Grant is to be expended. Details of any other sources of funding must be given.
 
7. Successful applicants are required to submit an article reporting on their activities, suitable for publication in the Society’s Newsletter or Journal, as appropriate, within six months of completion of travel.
 
8. Applications should include the names of at least two referees.
 
Eligibility
 
9. No formal qualifications are required. There are no age restrictions and all members of the Society are eligible to apply. Applications are particularly encouraged from persons who have little or no organisational support.
 
10. Only members of the Society with more than twelve months membership will be eligible to apply for the Travel Grant. Travel can be either within Australia or overseas. Overseas travel can include travel to Australia by overseas members.
 
Acquittal
 
11. Any Grant awarded must be properly accounted for by the recipient who will provide to Council full details of expenses incurred within four weeks of completion of travel. Unexpended funds must be refunded to the Society.
 
12. The recipient will submit their written report to Council within six months of completion of travel.
 
Miscellaneous
 
13. Interpretation of these guidelines is at the discretion of the governing Council in office at the time.
 
14. These guidelines may be altered by a majority vote at a special general meeting or an Annual General Meeting after notice has been duly served.
 

 

The Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Scholarship

 
Name
 
1. It shall be known as the Australian Rangeland Society Members’ Scholarship.
 
Purpose
 
2. The Scholarship is an annual award intended to assist an eligible person or persons to undertake formal study of a subject or course which will enable the recipient to pursue the art or science of rangelands management and further the aims of the Australian Rangeland Society. The Scholarship is available for study assistance either overseas or within Australia. It is not intended to defray travel expenses.
 
Determination
 
3. The Scholarship will be awarded, or not awarded, by Council on the merits of a written application (not exceeding 1000 words) clearly setting out the relevance of the applicant’s proposed course of study to rangelands management and in meeting the aims of the Society. Failure to comply with these guidelines may mean rejection of an application.
 
Conditions
 
4. Applications may be submitted at any time but will only be considered by Council at the first scheduled regular Council Meeting after the closing date for applications of 30 November each calendar year, to be granted in the following calendar year. Applications must be submitted on the form entitled “Application Form for Travel Grant or Scholarship”. 
 
5. One or more Scholarships can be awarded in a calendar year. The maximum amount available for distribution in a calendar year is  up to $6000 based on relevance, innovation and merit.
 
6. Applications should include details of the program of study or course to be undertaken and the institution under whose auspices it will be carried out. It should state precisely how the Scholarship is to be expended. Details of any other sources of funding must be given.
 
7. Applications should include the names of at least two referees.
 
8. Upon the conclusion of a course of study a recipient of a Scholarship will be required to write an article on their experiences, suitable for publication in the Society’s Newsletter.
 
Eligibility
 
9. No formal qualifications are required. There are no age restrictions and all members of the Society are eligible to apply. Applications are particularly encouraged from persons who do not have any organisational support.
 
10. Only members of the Society with more than twelve months membership will be eligible to apply for the Scholarship. Study can be undertaken either within Australia or overseas. Overseas study can include study in Australia by overseas members.
 
11. A recipient who has received a Scholarship in any one calendar year, if undertaking a continuous course of study, can apply for a further Scholarship, provided that the person has satisfied council as to the proper acquittal of any previous monies and has demonstrated satisfactory progress. Notwithstanding, such a person will not necessarily be given preference over other applicants.
 
Acquittal
 
12. Any Scholarship awarded must be properly accounted for by the recipient who, depending upon the length of the course undertaken, will be required to report to Council on the progress of study at a regular interval as determined by Council. Unexpended funds shall be refundable to the Society.
 
13. The recipient will submit their final written report to Council within six months of completion of study.
 
Miscellaneous
 
14. Interpretation of these guidelines is at the discretion of the governing Council in office at the time.
 

15. These guidelines may be altered by a majority vote at a special general meeting or an Annual General Meeting after notice has been duly served. 

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