19 - Optimising management
This study addresses the problem of balancing the trade-offs between the need for animal production, profit, and the goal of achieving persistence of desirable species within grazing systems. The bioeconomic framework applied in this study takes into account the impact of climate risk and the management of pastures and grazing rules on the botanical composition of the pasture resource, a factor that impacts on livestock production and economic returns over time. The framework establishes the links between inputs, the state of the pasture resource and outputs, to identify optimal pasture development strategies. The analysis is based on the application of a dynamic pasture resource development simulation model within a seasonal stochastic dynamic programming framework. This enables the derivation of optimum decisions within complex grazing enterprises, over both short-term tactical (such as grazing rest) and long-term strategic (such as pasture renovation) time frames and under climatic uncertainty. The simulation model is parameterised using data and systems from the Cicerone Project farmlet experiment. Results indicate that the strategic decision of pasture renovation should only be considered when pastures are in a severely degraded state, whereas the tactical use of grazing rest or low stocking rates should be considered as the most profitable means of maintaining adequate proportions of desirable species within a pasture sward. The optimal stocking rates identified reflected a pattern which may best be described as a seasonal saving and consumption cycle. The optimal tactical and strategic decisions at different pasture states, based on biomass and species composition, varies both between seasons and in response to the imposed soil fertility regime. Implications of these findings at the whole-farm level are discussed in the context of the Cicerone Project farmlets.
Optimising pasture and grazing management decisions on the Cicerone Project farmlets over variable time horizons
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