Abstract: There has been widespread interest by the industry in spelling practices, which hold out the potential for increased production without damage to natural resources, and may lead to sustained production with recovery of the natural resources. The benefits of rotational grazing in the semi arid rangelands have been little documented and it is therefore difficult for managers to commit to these new grazing strategies. The trial at Old Man Plains Research Station, 50km south west of Alice Springs, compares a four paddock rotation with a continuously grazed paddock, both used by breeder herds. Both the treatment and control paddocks are dominated by native pastures of mulga (Acacia aneura) over woollybutt (Eragrostis eriopoda) and kerosene grass (Aristida holathera) and oatgrass (Enneapogon avenaceus) pastures. The four paddock rotation was designed to allow herd management activities to be incorporated into paddock moves and was based on the Resource Consulting Services design. The study aimed to test the hypotheses that rotational grazing will improve the quality and quantity of pasture available, improve land condition and therefore animal productivity and reduce risks associated with a variable climate. This report presents the methodology and data collected to date. Pasture data consists only of pre trial data. A summary of plant species diversity and rank abundance is provided. Cattle in the rotation performed slightly better than the control with regard to average cow weight and branding percent. Pregnancy status and branding percent were similar for both treatments. At the time of reporting, the trial had not been running for very long (approximately 16 months), so it was not possible to draw any recommendations on the grazing strategy itself. This trial was run in conjunction with studies on Idracowra and Mt Riddock stations.
Notes: by a partnership including the Department of Primary Industry, Fisheries and Mines, the Centralian Land Management Association, CSIRO and DKCRC