A northern Australian grazier is utilising regenerative agriculture principles to improve the soil health and water infiltration on his property allowing him to effectively run his cattle on just 20 per cent of the property at any one time.
Bob Harris owns and operates Glencoe Station; a 6000 acre (2428 hectare) coastal property situated to the south of Bowen in North Queensland.
Glencoe has a carrying capacity of 700 head with Mr Harris opting to run a breeder herd and young store cattle.
Originally a Brahman herd, Droughtmaster and Belmont Red genetics were introduced to develop an animal well adapted to the coastal country.
Mr Harris said rotational grazing was an integral part of Glencoe management.
"Eighty per cent of the station has no cattle on it at any given time," he said.
"Depending on the time of year, mobs vary between two and three.
"We rotational graze and move the cattle around. The land is cleared to allow pastures to recover and regenerate."
Glencoe is subdivided into 30 paddocks with permanent fencing in place. Paddocks vary in size from 10 to 200 hectares with kiwi-tech electric fencing used to create smaller paddocks when required.
Mr Harris said grazing periods were shortened during the wet season.
"During a growing season graze periods are quite short with maybe 10 to 20pc of available pasture," he said.
"We just take the top off, which stimulates the plant.
"Animals are removed, allowing those plants to regrow and recover. The objective is to maximise photosynthesis."
Grazing periods increase during the dry season.
"During the dry season, when growth slows down or is dormant, graze periods are much longer with around 40 to 50pc of available pasture," he said.
Mr Harris noted since using this management system, massive increases in plant biodiversity and water infiltration on his land had been observed.
"I have always been interested in regenerative agriculture, but am very grateful to have had educational opportunities with holistic educators and rural consulting services," he said.
Mr Harris also recently completed a Grazing Resilience and Sustainable Solutions (GRASS) project with natural resource management body NQ Dry Tropics.
The project focused on small-scale landscape remediation measures to improve water management and sediment capture.
Mr Harris installed a series of diversion banks to hold water in the landscape and improve water infiltration instead of running into a gully system. The remediated area was 30 hectares.
Mr Harris focused on an area of his property that was eroding.
"I had trouble repairing the channel through grazing management alone," he said.
"The intent of the diversion banks is to allow the land to be repaired and healed, and to increase water infiltration."
The project concluded just before Christmas last year.
Early indications are positive, however Mr Harris said due to experiencing only half a wet season, more time was needed for the full benefits of the project to come to light.
"It is only early stages," he said.
"It will take a couple of years to see the full extent of the results.
"We have put this type of bank in previously and they work well."
The GRASS project aims to support graziers in priority Great Barrier Reef catchments to improve land conditions and productivity, whilst helping to protect the reef by reducing soil loss from properties.
Mr Harris plans to continue working in the regenerative space to improve the ground and soil health on his property.
Ongoing projects include building shallow dams to create ponded pastures, which align with the overall Glencoe management plan.
"Regenerative agriculture is gaining traction and graziers are beginning to manage and look after their country better," Mr Harris said.
"This is a space I've had an interest in and passion for several years."
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