North-east Victorian farmers will be challenged to increase their stocking rates to improve profitability at a conference this week.
The Grassland Society of Southern Australia’s annual conference at Nagambie on September 6 and 7 aims to help producers build on basics and invest to grow.
Euroa’s Meridian Agriculture senior consultant Jim Shovelton will tell the conference that getting stocking rates and soil fertility right are the most important basics for farmers in the region.
‘‘For a long time there has been an under-investment in soil fertility,’’ Mr Shovelton said.
He will outline strategies for farmers to prioritise their spending to improve soil fertility to pave the way for higher stocking rates.
‘‘The amount of money spent on fertiliser is the biggest discretionary cost in a grazing operation — the question is how you make the best use of it.
‘‘If you get your soil right you not only have an increased carrying capacity, the systems will be more resilient, will stand up better to droughts and adverse conditions and you end up with better quality feed.
‘‘It gives you more flexibility in your system.’’
Mr Shovelton said potential stocking rates were influenced by the growing season but could only be captured by having good soil fertility and the right species.
‘‘If you get the soil conditions right you have the springboard to get your stocking rate up to where it should be — then you’ll capture all the other added benefits of the investment genetics and grazing management.
‘‘You’ve got to run enough stock to cover the average overhead cost per hectare and then you’ve got to make a profit above that.’’
The conference, at Mitchelton Wines, Nagambie, will feature presentations from local practitioners and some of Australia’s best researchers.
It will also include half-day bus trips to visit local farms and the society’s annual general meeting.
■For all conference inquiries, phone the Grassland Society of Southern Australia office on 1300137550, or email firstname.lastname@example.org