(list your positions, achievements properties owned, family members etc)
Q: Artie, How long have you been looking at wanting to improve your properties?
Artie: Ever since I began making decisions really. I think everyone wants their place to be as good an environment as possible. That means lots of grasses, trees, some wildlife, microorganisms, and of course healthy stock to earn a living with, but it took a while before it started to happen though. We all start with our assumptions which are not always right, but I wanted to look at new ideas and give them a go.
Q: When did the changes come then?
Artie: My wife and I went to a 'grazing for profit' course with Terry McCosker in 1994, and that gave us a whole lot of new ways of seeing what we were doing. Grazing management, enterprise analysis, soil processes, etc. It was just what we were looking for.
Q: So you quickly started to trial some of these new ideas then?
Artie: Yes, we thought the grazing approach that Allan Savory had began sounded brilliant so we put up our first grazing cells on "Sutherland" shortly after and restuctured our grazing enterprise by getting our partners to go to the grazing for profit course as well.
Q: Can you explain the cell grazing idea to us?
Artie: Yes, It`s probably the easiest labor management way of having high numbers of stock graze and trample relatively small areas for a short period of time. Generally there are 4 to 24 paddocks radiating around one watering point. We call that a cell. We have about 87 paddocks in 4 cells on Sutherland now. There are other methods of getting the stock to graze small areas but they require more portable electric fences and labor. Everyone has there own preference as to which management style suits them.
Q:What results have you had in your open forest country?
Artie: We are excited about getting increases in stylos (legumes), organic matterand have a lot more ground cover. The former bare areas are shrinking and on the treeless Downs areas we are now getting some edible trees (whitewoods) germinating.
The appropriate resting of pastures and better utilization of plant forage has enabled our carring capacity to increase from 250 head of breeding cows to 900 head in 6 years.
Q:You have recently bought a property with large areas of Mitchell grass downs on it. Will that be managed with cells?
Artie: No , not at this stage. The way the grasses and soil work seems to require either 2 or 4 paddocks for some basic rest, or well over 20 paddocks for quite intensive management. The grass does not seem to respond much until there is that high intensity of management and basic resting is easier and cheaper to organise and does not harm the grasses too badly. I suppose that is why the Mitchell grass downs areas of Australia are in quite good shape still.
Q: Apart from the environmental and productivity gains from using a calculated grazing approach, what other benefits are there?
Artie: The main one is that you can work out how much stock feed you have, well in advance of when there might be a shortage or when most other people find out their situation. This gives us the opportunity to lighten off 6 mths out, when prices are good and if an opportunity comes up later ,we may be able to grab it.