A survey of dairy farmers' practices and attitudes towards some aspects of arable-land management in the Darling Downs and South Burnett regions of Queensland
R. G. Chataway, V. J. Doogan and W. M. Strong
Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
43(5) 449 - 457
Published: 03 June 2003
The Darling Downs and Southern Inland Burnett are important geographical subregions of the Queensland dairy industry. The system of dairy farming in these subregions is unique in Australia in that it is based on grazed annual forage crops rather than pastures. When these soils were first cultivated up to 110 years ago they were inherently fertile. However, erosion and fertility decline has reduced their productive capacity and there is a need for the adoption of farming practices that are less exploitative. In February 1997, a survey was conducted to determine dairy farmers' practices and attitudes toward management strategies that were being recommended to grain farmers in the subtropical cereal belt for sustaining the soil resource base. These strategies included greater use of ley pastures, opportunistic double-cropping, zero-till planting and higher fertiliser inputs. We found that dairy farmers were generally familiar with and understanding of the potential benefits of these approaches to their farming enterprises. However, farmers raised a number of issues that need consideration in the transfer of these practices to dairy forage production. These included concerns that an increased emphasis on pastures would result in lower and less-reliable forage production; that double-cropping is practiced more out of necessity than in the belief it is a better way to farm; that zero tillage may not be suitable on clay soils that have been trampled by cattle and that farmers rely primarily on their own observations of crop performance to determine fertiliser use. These findings have particular implications for research and extension activities conducted with dairy farmers and are also relevant to work conducted with other cropping enterprises that incorporate grazing animals in their farming program.
Full text doi:10.1071/EA01179
© CSIRO 2003