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    UNE preparing farmers for next big dry

    320 UrandangieA University of New England (UNE) project is teaching farmers how to avoid overestimating feed availability this summer.

    With a hot summer on the horizon, UNE is helping farmers across the Northern Tablelands to drought-proof their properties and minimise impacts of the next big dry.

    Pasture coach and project officer for the Drought Resilient Pasture and Landscapes (DRPL) project, Jaimi-lee Edwards, is mentoring local graziers to effectively assess pastures, create feed budgets, and use cutting edge tools to predict weather conditions.

    Half way through the project, Jaimi-lee says participants are honing their skills just in time for temperatures to rise.

    “We have a number of graziers from several properties across the region out in their paddocks working to determine their feed availability, which can be difficult to do,” she says.

    Initially, Jaimi-lee observed participants overestimating the green content of their pastures.

    “This is quite easy to do, because the dead herbage is often at the base of the plant, out of site is out of mind,” she says.

    “Because of the higher water content, the green component also looks to be more than what it really is, because we express pasture on a dry matter basis.”

    To show this, the project team cut pasture samples in June of this year and sorted the green from the dead components that were then dried.

    They found the green component of pastures on participants’ properties were typically made up mostly of water, leaving just 33 percent as dry matter.

    Meanwhile, the dead component had only 36 percent water, leaving 64 percent dry matter.

    “The good news is that once aware of these pitfalls, the coaching groups greatly improved their estimates.”

    Coaching group members are also making the most of Ag360, a free online platform that provides an estimate of the green component.

    “Ag360 also helps you forecast for pasture and livestock performance during the coming six months, based on weather data relevant to within 5km of the property location,” Jaimi-lee says.“I would encourage anyone interested in improving resilience on their properties to create a free account and begin planning for the future” she said.

    The DRPL project will wrap up in mid-2024, and leaving a range of helpful and permanent resources that graziers can access to ensure they are adopting resilient practices.

    This project received funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund, and is a partnership between UNE, GLENRAC, and Southern New England Landcare.

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