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The northern Australian beef industry, a snapshot. 5. Land and pasture development practices

G. Bortolussi A D E , J. G. McIvor B , J. J. Hodgkinson B , S. G. Coffey C and C. R. Holmes A
+ Author Affliations
- Author Affliations

A CSIRO Livestock Industries, PO Box 5545, Rockhampton MC, Qld 4702, Australia.

B CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Queensland Bioscience Precinct, 306 Carmody Road, St Lucia, Qld 4067, Australia.

C CSIRO Livestock Industries, Queensland Bioscience Precinct, 306 Carmody Road, St Lucia, Qld 4067, Australia.

D Present address: NRM Programs & Operations Group, NRM Support Division, Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation, GPO Box 2834, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 45(9) 1121-1129
Submitted: 15 April 2004  Accepted: 23 June 2004   Published: 10 October 2005


The land and pasture development practices of 375 northern Australian beef properties in 8 regions were surveyed during 1996–97. These properties represented a broad cross-section of the beef industry in terms of geographical location, enterprise and herd size, and ownership structures.

Both tree clearing and killing were more common in Queensland than in the Northern Territory or northern Western Australia. In all regions where trees were poisoned, native pasture was more widely used than sowing introduced grass and/or legume species. In contrast, tree clearing was most often accompanied by sowing pastures (either an introduced grass only or introduced grass and legume species together), rather than using native pastures. Central coastal Queensland had the highest use of poisoning trees for pasture development. Tree clearing and using native pasture was most important in central Queensland regions and the Maranoa South West. Sowing introduced pasture species under live trees was more commonly practiced in northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia than in other regions.

A considerable number of introduced grass and legume species were sown by producers. Most of the sown species were grasses. Many of the sown grass and legume species were spreading naturally. Buffel grass was spreading in all areas with < 1000 mm average annual rainfall, but most sown species were spreading only in wetter regions. Stylosanthes spp. were the most commonly spreading legume species in regions with > 500 mm average annual rainfall.

The results are discussed in relation to contemporary natural resource management issues and how this may affect land and pasture development activities in the future.


Funding for this work was provided by the CSIRO Tropical Agri-Exports Multi-Divisional Project. We thank J. Stewart, chairman NABRC, for his support of the work; the numerous staff in Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries and Western Australia Department of Agriculture for their assistance in organising the survey and providing valuable local information; D. Reid for his statistical advice; and R. M. Jones and C. K. McDonald for their advice concerning this paper.


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