High-Intensity Grazing Trial Yields Early Results

Barry O’Sullivan is a farmer from North Queensland, whose farm is part of an experimental grazing practice. The property is located 60 km west of Bowen. After trying this new approach to farming and grazing, O’Sullivan has hosted an open house in which he showcased the benefits of the technique to local farmers.

The Way Things Were

The main problem with the property was erosion. O’Sullivan stated that the gully could not be improved, regardless of mitigation efforts. Growing new grass to improve the land failed. Instead of going for an alternative mechanical method, O’Sullivan turned to this experimental program: spearheaded by Dry Tropics.

The Process

The first part of the process was a consultation between the experts from Dry Tropics and the farmers who would put in the actual labor. Their advice was put into action for a period of six nights. The project’s goal was to place 1,200 cattle at the gully, at two square meters per animal penned in by portable electric fences. The goal of the approach was to create what’s known as “biological carpeting”: a covering of dung and urine about one inch thick.

The Results

After just six days, the results were quite noticeable and even striking. The edges of the gully had been smoothed by the activity of the cattle, and the monoculture covering the ground had been consumed, improving the biological activity in the soil. The effect was further highlighted by the first rainfall. Seeds that were present in the soil germinated, covering the gully in a small layer of diverse grasses.

Savory Grasslands Management

The trial process was overseen by Savory Grasslands Management, spearheaded by Rodget Savory: an expert in holistic management approaches. In a statement, Savory explained the grazing process and it’s beneficial effect on damaged land.

“The reason we put the animals together at ultra-high density is so that there is enough of the urine and dung at enough density that it can benefit all the microorganisms in the soil,” Savory stated. “As far as grazing everything, that depends on your context. If you are trying to fix your water cycle and get your ground covered, you wouldn’t graze everything, you would leave the majority behind and just get it trampled into the ground. It all depends on what people are trying to manage towards.”

The Holistic Approach

The holistic approach that’s advocated by Savory is complex and goes beyond general agriculture. According to Savory himself, there are 3 components of this method.

-Changes to the land management
-Changes to financial management of the farm
-Changes to the lifestyle and working habits of the farm.

The fact that many farmers attended the open house lecture suggests the new method has sparked a fair bit of interest.


A holistic approach to grazing is something that can be used to improve damaged and eroding fields, through the use of cattle. Initial 6-day trials on farms throughout North Queensland have yielded positive results.



More from Ashfount:

 6 Principles of Grazing Management


Date:Feb 12, 2020



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