Drought preparedness

Drought preparedness requires action on two fronts

Drought is both natural and man-made. Used loosely in public policy, the term describes a form of financial stress, arising out of stress in the production systems, arising from a sequence of weather events, arising from climatic condition and trends.

In short, to be prepared for and resilient in the face of drought requires a pastoral enterprise to be both:

  • resilient in financial conditions;
  • resilient in paddock conditions.

The Society’s page on stewardship has a link to a June 2018 report by its President Dr Geoff Edwards on the payment of stewardship incentives, which is a tool to improve resilience in financial conditions. The series of columns written by Society Member Alan Lauder under the banner of “Soils for Life” is a model for improving resilience in paddock conditions.

Alan puts it this way: “As a pastoralist in south-west Queensland from the 1970s, I originally thought that sheep and cattle were the source of my income. That’s what I sold. Then I came to realise that the pasture they ate was my source of income. Sheep and cattle were really living factories and the better the inputs (pasture), the more productive they would be. But grass requires healthy soil and I realised that soil was the source of my income. Finally I have come to understand through paddock observation and a knowledge of science that the flow of carbon is the driver of healthy soil. Pasture is 45% carbon and cattle are 18% carbon. Carbon is the source of a pastoralist’s income.”

An opinion piece by the President Dr Geoff Edwards “Donations won’t solve crisis” was published in Queensland Country Life on 30 August 2018.

Making paddocks resilient: The Lauder columns

Alan’s columns explaining the dynamics of pastoral landscapes in aggregate constitute a drought preparedness policy for an individual producer. They appeared first on the website of Soils for Life.

Column 1:  What is the most fundamental thing a producer has to get right?

Column 2:  Has extension focused on the wrong aspect of carbon when discussing decision making?

Column 3:  Restarting carbon flows to repair a degraded claypan.

Column 4:  Why carbon suddenly turned up in extension.

Column 5:  How moving carbon carries energy.

Column 6: Think carbon before nitrogen.

Column 7 : Plant energy reserves are built by carbon flows.

Column 8 : Why we make the decisions we do.

Column 9 : Why paddock carbon needs ongoing replacement.

Column 10 : The different speeds of paddock carbon.

Column 11 : How carbon and nitrogen work together.

Column 12 : Speeding up the faster moving carbon for increased profit and reduced methane.

Column 13 : The structural role of flowing carbon.

Column 14 : Financial analogy.

Column 15 : Edible shrubs supply more reliable carbon flows.


Column 16 : Some of the main points raised in 2017.

Column 17 :  What really is paddock resilience?

Column 18 : Plants don’t just sit there and take it.

Column 19 : The two different processes plants use to generate carbon flows.

Column 20 :  Is pasture rest TIME or TIMING?

Column 21 : Techniques for pasture spelling.

Column 22 : Why short term removal of animals after rain rests all plants.

Column 23 : Small changes can make a big difference.

Column 24 : Methane is the carbon atom taking a detour.

Column 25 : The Carbon Grazing principle relates to managing carbon flows.

Column 26 : Drought in perspective.

Column 27 :  Carbon levels influence rainfall.

Column 28 :  Ongoing stable methane emissions from cattle doesn’t change the climate.

Column 29 : Edible shrubs need management different from perennial grasses.

Column 30 : Wet years are over-emphasised in relation to regeneration.

Column 31 :  Practical facts that provide understanding.

Column 32 : Where carbon resides.

Column 33 :  Why resilience is important.

Column 34 :  Animals can be very selective.

Column 35 :  Short-term carbon is the driver of change.

Column 36 :  ‘Sustainable Beef’ can’t be defined without discussing carbon flows.

This completes the series of columns.

A video was uploaded by Soils for Life on 9 July 2018:

https://www.facebook.com/SoilsforLife/videos/1837663936256809/ .