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Responsible, sustainable beef production (Part 1)

DISCLAIMER

The product trade names in this publication are supplied on the understanding that no preference between equivalent products is intended and that the inclusion of a product does not imply endorsement by NSW Agriculture over any other equivalent product from another manufacturer.

Introduction

Grazing industries are generally considered to be more benign than cropping systems in terms of their effect on the environment. However, beef production does impact upon plants, soil, air and water, and depletes resources such as fuel. Environmental management in grazing beef production is therefore just as important to the future of the industry and its individual producers as is product quality and consistency, profitability and market access.

Colonists arriving in Australia in the 1800s traditionally set out to ‘conquer’ or ‘tame’ the land, and applied European methods of farming in doing so. We now realise that this path is not sustainable. Producers must work with the land and its climate, within its limitations.

Management issues for today’s beef producer

Beef production in Australia today is a complex business. The European methods of farming that were initially introduced to this country have had to be modified to allow for the unreliable nature of Australia’s climate, and its very different soils and vegetation. Market forces have changed considerably in the last couple of decades, and consumers now demand natural food which is free of chemicals and is produced without detriment to the environment or to the welfare of animals.

Beef producers need to have a wide understanding of many factors if they wish to build and maintain a successful, sustainable business:

  • sustainable pasture management;
  • maintenance of biodiversity;
  • soil management;
  • water management;
    • minimisation of greenhouse gas emissions;
    • minimisation of offensive odours and dust;
  • efficient use of other resources such as fuel;
  • good stock management, taking animal welfare into consideration;
  • responsible use of chemicals;
  • property management planning, including good risk management, with enterprise flexibility which enables adaptation to changing markets;
  • good monitoring and recording systems which gather useful information about the enterprise and allow assessment of financial and environmental sustainability;
  • good community relationships and perceptions.
  • air management: