GRAZIERS who implement land management practices that are environmentally friendly are also more profitable, a new study claims.
James Cook University scientists teamed up with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to undertake the study, which examined the effect of heavy, moderate, and variable stocking rates on farms in North Queensland.
JCU’s Professor Lin Schwarzkopf said livestock grazing was the most dominant land use in Northern Australia, covering 1.5 million square kilometres of tropical savannas.
The three year study was spent analysing stocking rates against land condition, profitability, reptile abundance and species richness.
“We found that overall, reptile abundance was better with more sustainably managed approaches when compared with heavy stocking,” Prof Schwarzkopf said.
She said that profitability and land condition were also better using sustainable approaches.
“Heavy stocking negatively impacted reptiles and was also the least profitable grazing strategy over the long term, and resulted in the worst land condition.”
She said graziers with a moderate stocking rate or flexible management strategies were better able to buffer the effects of climate variability, and by practicing those approaches they experienced better economic outcomes .
Prof Schwarzkopf said the results provided crucial empirical data showing the considerable economic benefit to be gained from grazing strategies that maintain land condition and biodiversity.
She said the findings were important beyond farming.
“We need to have economically viable animal production for the grazier and maintenance of the ecological processes that support biodiversity,” Prof Schwarzkopf said.
“We measured the trade-off between conservation and production objectives, and found there wasn’t one in this system.”