318 Katherine Rural Review - April 2014 (PDF)

Katherine Research Station
PO Box 1346, Katherine NT 0851
Phone (08) 8973 9739
Fax (08) 8973 9777
[email protected]
ISSN 0394-9823
EDITION 318- April 2014
In this edition
Increasing reconception
rates in lactating heifers
From little things big things
grow—Malcolm Bennett:
a plant breeder’s career
Fertilisers for pastures—
How much do I need to
Forage budgeting—
matching what you’ve got
with what you’ll need
The value of grazed grass
pastures in the Katherine
Pastoral industry feed
advisory bulletin now
Irrigated fodder production
in the Tennant Creek region 9
AACo leaders’ forum
Emergency animal disease
recognition training
Exercise Odysseus—the
national livestock standstill
exercise program
New workplace health and
safety campaign to start in
Increasing reconception rates in lactating
Whitney Dollemore, Pastoral Production Officer, Katherine
Most properties in the Katherine region sell young stock to the live
export trade and so require as many calves as possible to be born
and weaned each year.
Of the producers who participated in the 2010 survey, those in the
Katherine region indicated that they kept on average 58% of their
heifers as replacements. If replacement heifers are first joined at two
years old, about 40% of the breeding herd consists of females below
five years of age and are on their first or second lactation with a small
percentage on their third lactation. Often in the Katherine/VRD region
about 80% of maiden heifers conceive as two year olds but, around
20% lose their calves and often only around 20% re-conceive while
lactating and so the majority of these heifers are only producing one
calf in their first four years of life. This herd model is outlined in the
MLA publication “Heifer management in Northern beef herds 2nd
Edition” (www.mla.com.au/News-and-resources/Publicationdetails?pubid =5934). The economic modelling in this publication
shows that in Katherine and VRD each 5% increase in reconception
rate of the first calf heifer would increase herd gross margin by
approximately $1.20 per AE (adult equivalent), i.e. about $26,000 per
herd. CashCow data has shown that heifers in their first and second
lactation have an average reconception rate within four months of
calving 12.6% lower than cows that have raised two or more calves,
see Table 1.
Table 1: Predicted percentage four months pregnant (P4M) by cow age
class (McGowan, M, et al., 2014).
Cow age
Mature cows
P4M * (%)
95% Confidence interval
New faces—Mook Crothers 14
Aged cows
Free WHS Act compliance
assistance available for NT
farmers and pastoralists
*Means not sharing a common superscript letter are significantly
different (P<0.05)
Round the region
Katherine Rural Review
Page |1
Analysis of the CashCow results also concluded that within each age group of females there was a
significant difference in reconception rates between those animals with sufficient faecal phosphorus to
metabolisable energy ratio (P:ME≥500mgP/MJME), and those below this threshold. For example, first
lactation heifers below this threshold had a 24% lower reconception rate than those above. This
highlights the requirement for P in all breeding animals–particularly lactating heifers.
If a heifer is first mated at two years of age she will have her first calf at three (first lactation heifer) and
if she is then able to reconceive she will calve again at four years of age (second lactation heifer). If
she fails to reconceive within four months of her first calf she should next calve at five however, by this
age she is no longer classified as a second lactation heifer and is considered a breeder/mature cow.
Animals are usually fully grown by this time, resulting in lower nutritional requirements for production of
a weaner. Segregation of heifers up to this stage to allow targeted supplementation may assist in lifting
reconception rates in lactating heifers.
“What do I mean by increased nutritional management?”
I am thinking about practices which lower the nutritional demands of the animal or a supplement that
will help to alleviate the nutritional burden on these animals that are growing and reproducing.
Examples are targeted supplementation and early weaning.
The importance of managing body condition score (BCS)
It has been shown that BCS has the greatest effect on heifer fertility. A BCS of three or more is a useful
target, although it can be hard to achieve in young heifers in the Katherine region. In order to improve
BCS, some strategies include:
stocking heifers at a conservative stocking rate on good native or improved pastures
heifer segregation for the first and second lactation from the main breeder herd
strategic supplementation including the supply of wet season phosphorus
mustering and weaning calves from heifers before the main breeder herd
weaning down to 100 kg (three months) or lower if heifer BCS is low
selection of heifers post joining, resulting in the selection of heifers for fertility traits.
Many producers in the Katherine region already implement a number of these strategies. In the 2010
Pastoral Industry Survey, BCS was ranked by 65% of producers as an indicator of when to wean
calves from heifers. Heifer segregation occurs on 68% of surveyed properties however, most heifers
are returned to the breeding herd after their first lactation. Also, 54% of breeding heifers and 45% of
yearling heifers are being fed wet season supplements with phosphorus as the main nutrient. Fertility
traits were ranked 5th in importance for the selection of replacement heifers, possibly as a result of 60%
of producers making culling decisions on heifers prior to first joining.
As heifers make up a large proportion of the herd and the number of calves produced per cow mated is
a major profit driver, it is extremely important to implement as many cost effective strategies as
possible to maximise reconception rates in first and second lactation heifers. So, it is always a good
idea to pencil on the calendar that heifer paddock as the first to be mustered for weaning, particularly if
there has been limited grass growth over the wet season, and the heifers are starting to drop away in
References: Schatz, TJ (2010) Understanding and
improving heifer fertility in the Northern Territory. Final
report Project NBP.339. Meat and Livestock Australia,
North Sydney, NSW, 2059
McGowan, M, et al. (2014) North Australian Beef Fertility
Project: Cash Cow. Final report Project NBP.0382. Meat
and Livestock Australia, North Sydney, NSW, 2059
Cowley, TM (2014) 2010 Pastoral Industry Survey Northern
Territory Wide, DPIF, Northern Territory Government
Page |2
Katherine Rural Review
From little things big things grow
Malcolm Bennett: a plant breeder’s career
Hailing from north Queensland’s picturesque tableland region, Malcolm Bennett came to the Territory
as a fresh-faced graduate. Mal’s career with the NT Government started in November 1982. He was
employed as a Technical Officer at Douglas Daly Research Farm (DDRF) where he was assisting in
wet season research into rain-fed peanut cropping.
After the 1984/85 wet season, Mal was promoted to a professional position at Katherine Research
Station (KRS). Alan Garside was Mal’s agricultural mentor and for the next three years they worked
alongside each other on the Crop by Environment Study (CES), searching for possible alternatives to
maize, mungbeans, soybeans and sorghum.
These were the boom years of Australian agriculture, where opportunity knocked and anything was
possible, particularly in the Northern Territory. The CES study was a detailed investigation into crops by
environment, by variety. Fourteen crops from across the grass and legume families (guar, millet, pigeon
pea and sesame) were trialled at KRS, DDRF and Sunday Creek Station, with three varieties per crop:
early maturing, mid maturing and late maturing. This was Mal’s introduction to sesame and where his
career as a plant breeder started.
In 1989 CES research started to focus on identifying potential crops for the future. Sesame was
originally considered as an oil seed crop, however issues with fracturing seed prior to oil extraction
shifted the focus of sesame production for from oil production to confectionary production. Research
continued at KRS, in conjunction with CSIRO, driven by Don Beech, who believed in sesame as an
emerging industry for Australia. External funding secured in 1993 by Col Martin ensured the
continuation of the sesame breeding work which consisted of growing pure sesame lines and
developing agronomic techniques.
The hard work paid off, with Mal organising the first Australian Sesame Workshop which was held in
Darwin and Katherine in 1995. The workshop was well attended by all the major sesame players,
including representatives from Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Israel and New South Wales. Twenty five
papers were presented and during group discussions strategies were developed for the coordinated
expansion of the Australian sesame industry.
Simultaneously other industries were emerging, thriving or declining. From1995–2005, for example,
cotton research was underway with external funding. Meanwhile, the grain industry was in steady
decline, with pastoralists taking over land, particularly in the Douglas Daly and Sturt Plateau regions.
In 1997 and1998 Mal acted as a consultant between the NT Government and the Japanese consortium
operating out of NSW. The plan was to export 1,000 tonnes of sesame. Unfortunately several factors
combined to put an end to the hopes and dreams of an industry: drought, lack of irrigation water, the
Japanese financial crisis, and a lack of industry funding.
The late 1990s saw research being conducted in sesame seed cleaning with Terry Herman supplying
some industry funding. By 2000, there were no
sesame growers in the NT and the focus shifted
to developing sesame lines for the east coast of
Several changes within the NT Government saw
the amalgamation of the cropping and
horticulture teams in 2005 which resulted in Mal
directing agricultural research with peanuts and
maize in conjunction with Peanut Company of
Australia (PCA). As climate change awareness
increased, Mal also developed research trials
investigating the potential of commercial biofuel
crops such as pongamia and cassava.
Unfortunately, the times were again changing
and the last grain crop—a millet and maize rotation—was concluded at PCA, as the company folded
and left the Katherine region in 2010.
Katherine Rural Review
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Other work Mal recently contributed to includes trials involving rice varieties, investigating poppies,
sesame seed multiplication and guar agronomics. He was also actively involved in the Action on the
Ground project.
Much of Mal’s agricultural career has seen full cycles of change, and he too is completing a full cycle
and returning home to the Atherton Tablelands. Mal’s modest nature and ready laugh is already sorely
missed at KRS, however when asked (and elbowed in the ribs a few times), he stated that the four
greatest achievements of his career were:
the release of four sesame cultivars: Edith and Giles for the Top End of Australia and Rakabe
and Rosemarie for the east coast
identification of pongamia and cassava as potential biofuel crops for NT
an integrated approach to the production of dry season maize, which involved cover crops, crop
rotation, zero till and use of environmentally friendly pesticides—which led to the production of
14 tonnes of maize
the opportunity to mentor new staff.
Through his sheer passion for the industry and constant outside-the-box thinking, Mal has inspired
many who have worked with him. It’s that attitude that led Mal to extensively trial emerging crops and
improving the sesame industry—as well as exploring the potential of biofuel crops in the NT.
It is on this note that the staff at KRS, in particular the Plant Industries Team, and the NT Government
recognises their loss, while thanking Mal, the Champion of Sesame, for all his hard work. We wish Mal
all the best in his retirement.
Fertilisers for pastures—how much do I need to apply?
Arthur Cameron, Principal Pastures and Extension Agronomist, Darwin
Based on a soil analysis result, it is possible to calculate how much of a particular nutrient needs to be
applied to the soil to optimise plant growth, and with that, pasture yield or hay yield.
As a rule of thumb, it takes two kg of an element per hectare to raise the available soil level of that
element by one part per million (ppm).
The adequate soil nutrient levels are presented in the table below together with a typical NT soil
analysis, and the amount of nutrient element required to adequately raise each nutrient level
Phosphorus (P)
Potassium (K)
Sulphur (S)
Zinc (Zn)
Adequate level
Typical soil level
Amount of element to
raise soil level to
adequate (kg)
The amount of fertiliser to apply can be influenced by end use. It is particularly important to apply the
full nutrient element requirement when growing hay as nutrient removal is high in hay crops.
Nitrogen is not presented in the table, as levels are extremely low in Top End soils, and the amount to
be applied to grass pastures depends on the end use and yield required. For more information, please
feel free to contact me, Arthur Cameron at [email protected] or phone 8999 2214.
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Katherine Rural Review
Forage budgeting—matching what you’ve got with
what you’ll need
Jodie Ward, Pastoral Production Officer, Katherine
Forage budgets allow the comparison of what feed is available in the paddock with how much the stock
can be expected to eat over a fixed period of time. The best time to create a forage budget is after the
pastures have finished growing and are heading towards the dormant stage of the growth cycle. This is
usually between April and May. Creating a forage budget at this time also allows the adjustment of
stocking rates during first round of mustering if the calculations suggest a paddock will be over or under
There are some amazing resources available online to help with forage budgeting as it is not always as
straight forward as it would seem. FutureBeef has released a series of four comprehensive step-bystep instructional videos that can be found on YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl-W_txoh0E).
While it would be logical to think the process would be as easy as estimating how much pasture there
is in the paddock, then subtracting how much you would expect the cattle to eat, this is not the case.
There are a number of other factors that must be taken into consideration when estimating how much
pasture can be ‘counted’ as available feed.
For example, there are some pasture species that cattle find undesirable, so these species shouldn’t
be included in the estimation of available feed. Estimating what proportion of the pasture contains
these undesirable species differs from site to site. The undesirable species commonly found in the
Katherine and VRD regions include feathertop wiregrass (Aristida latifolia), fairy grass (Sporobolus
australasicus), cane grass (Ophiuros exaltatus) and gulf wiregrass (Aristida pruinosa).
Also, it is well known that cattle are unlikely to utilise the entire paddock. The Pigeon Hole Project
found that up to 90% of grazing in the Victoria River District occurs within three kilometres of a watering
point, making only the pastures within these areas realistically available for grazing.
It is also important to leave a certain amount of pasture standing in the paddock. This figure is
commonly set at 1,000 kg/ha of Dry Matter (DM) in the northern parts of the NT to ensure that the soil
has enough coverage to prevent erosion and allow water infiltration during the following wet season.
This is referred to as the residual. Leaving this amount of pasture uneaten also ensures a quick
response to rainfall by the pasture.
An allowance also has to be made for leaf detachment. This figure accounts for plants that become
trampled or lose leaf matter as the plant health deteriorates coming into the dry season.
Table 1. Adult equivalent (AE) conversion
Class of stock
Breeders (>three-years-old)
Heifers (one-year-old)
Steers (one-year-old)
Two-year-old steers
Spayed cows
Katherine Rural Review
On the cattle side of the equation, it is well established that
each class of cattle consumes different amounts of feed.
Calculating stocking rates in terms of Adult Equivalents (AE)
establishes a base from which to compare different classes of
stock. For example, a dry 450 kg cow is regarded as 1AE,
whereas a cow with a calf at foot is given an AE rating of 1.35
to take into account the extra nutrition the cow requires to
Fortunately, a good forage budget allows for these factors to
be taken into consideration. An example of such a document
can be found on the Long Paddock website
(www.longpaddock.qld.gov.au/grasp/foragebudget.php). For
more information or assistance with estimate pasture yields, be
sure to contact me at [email protected] or
phone 8973 9730.
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The value of grazed grass pastures in the Katherine region
Arthur Cameron, Principal Pastures and Extension Agronomist &
Dionne Walsh, Rangeland Program Manager, Pastoral Production
The value of a standing pasture will depend on the dry matter yield (biomass), and the amount of
pasture which can be safely eaten by animals (utilisation rate) and still leave cover to allow regrowth
the next wet season and to prevent erosion and soil loss. There will be a range of values. In the
Katherine region, the value of a kilogram of feed consumed by livestock is equivalent to the value of a
kilogram of good quality hay, which can range from $0.20 per kilogram ($200 per tonne) close to
Katherine up to $0.30 per kilogram ($300 per tonne) towards the edges of the region.
In the Katherine Region, much of the native pastures are tropical tall grasses, with dry matter (DM)
yields ranging from about 1,500 kg/ha to about 3,000 kg/ha. The safe utilisation rate on these native
pastures is only 10%, so the amount consumed would be 150 and 300 kg, giving these types of native
pastures a value of $30 and $60 per hectare, respectively, close to Katherine, and $45 and $90 per
hectare, respectively, further from Katherine.
Better quality native pastures, which grow on loamy red earths, floodplains and black soils, have more
of the palatable perennial grasses such as Kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra), Bluegrasses
(Dichanthium species), Mitchell grasses (Astrebla species) and Plume sorghum (Sorghum plumosum)
present. In these better pastures utilisation rates will be higher, i.e. 15 to 20%. A native pasture with
3,000 kg dry matter per hectare and a safe utilisation rate of 15% would provide feed valued at $90–
$135 per hectare. A native pasture with 3,000 kg dry matter per hectare and a safe utilisation rate of
20% would provide feed valued at $120 per hectare close to Katherine and $180 further away.
Improved grass pastures such as Jarra (Digitaria milanjiana), Strickland (Digitaria milanjiana), Buffel
(Cenchrus ciliaris) and Sabi grass (Urochloa mosambicensis) are generally higher yielding than native
pastures, depending on how well they are fertilised. Unfertilised improved pasture would generally yield
about 4,000 kg dry matter per hectare in most years in the Katherine region, while well fertilised
improved grass pastures will yield about 8,000 kg dry matter per hectare.
Safe utilisation rates are much higher on the improved pasture at 70%, so 2,800 kg dry matter per
hectare of an unfertilised improved pasture can be consumed, and 5,600 kg dry matter per hectare for
a well fertilised pasture. This feed is valued at $560 and $1,120 per hectare, respectively, close to
Katherine, and $840 and $1,680 further from Katherine.
Table 1. Pasture type values of the Katherine region in dollars per hectare ($/ha)
Pasture type
Native, spinifex pastures
Native, tall grass pastures on
various soil types
Native, black soil pastures
Improved grass, not fertilised
Improved grass, well fertilised
rate %
Grass yield
kg DM/ha
Value of
grass clos /ha
Value of grass far
More information about important pasture types in the Katherine region can be found in the following
Land Condition Guides:
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Katherine Rural Review
Pastoral Industry Feed Advisory Bulletin now available
Dionne Walsh, Rangeland Program Manager, Pastoral Production, Berrimah
The DPIF has a new information bulletin that summarises
current feed supplies, seasonal conditions and fire risk for
each of the 11 pastoral districts in the NT.
This bulletin is produced quarterly and the March 2014
bulletin is now available on our website as a pdf or MS Word
If you would like to receive an email alert when a new
bulletin is available, please contact
[email protected]
Following are some examples of what can be found in the
Running total of median pasture growth in kilograms
per hectare (kg/ha):
This graph shows that the long-term
median pasture growth in the Katherine
pastoral district is just over 2,000 kg/ha.
The red line shows that 2013/14 pasture
growth is tracking similarly to 2012/13
and has almost reached the long-term
median this wet season
Katherine Rural Review
Page |7
Total 2013/14 pasture growth (July 2013–February 2014):
This map shows how
much pasture has grown
across the Katherine
district this wet season.
1,000 kg/ha of growth.
Current estimated total Standing Dry Matter (as at end February 2014):
This map shows how
much pasture is
estimated to be standing
in the Katherine district.
Most areas have more
than 1,000 kg/ha of
standing pasture
biomass, with some
having very high levels
above 3,000 kg/ha. [But
see box below].
This is just a taste of
what is in the Bulletin.
The information can be
used to:
see how this year compares to last year and to the long-term
identify whether you might have potential feed surpluses or deficits
assess fire risk
get an idea of whether there might be more growth this season.
Feedback on the Bulletin is welcome, please email [email protected] or
[email protected]
The pasture and fire risk information in the Bulletin is derived from AussieGRASS. AussieGRASS is a
model that simulates pasture growth and standing biomass using climate data, vegetation mapping, fire
history and regional estimates of grazing pressure. Note that the model does not use stocking rate data
for individual properties. Where stock numbers are significantly higher or lower than typical for a district,
model estimates of total standing dry matter may be erroneous.
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Katherine Rural Review
Irrigated fodder production in the Tennant Creek Region
Arthur Cameron, Principal Pastures and Extension Agronomist, Pastoral Production, Berrimah
There has been renewed interest in growing fodder under irrigation in the Tennant Creek Region.
A preliminary evaluation of irrigated fodder species was conducted on Helen Springs Station between
1999 and 2001 by Stanbroke Pastoral Company and departmental staff.
The demonstration consisted of ten single irrigated strips of forages and an unirrigated strip of Flinders
grass (Table 1 below). Three fertiliser treatments were laid out across the forage strips, and a control
strip was not fertilised.
Table 1. Forages sown
Scientific name
Centrosema pascuorum
Macroptilium gracile
Milgarra blue pea
Clitoria ternatea
Medicago sativa
Jarra finger grass
Digitaria milanjiana
Jumbo forage sorghum
Sorghum sp
Nutrifeed Pearl millet
Pennisetum glaucum
Red Flinders grass
Iseilema vaginiflorum
Silk sorghum
Sorghum sp
Sugargraze forage sorghum
Sorghum sp
The plots were sown on 10 and 11 February 1999. Only five of the forages established. The plant
populations and yields from the two harvests are presented in Table 2.
Table 2. Plant populations and harvest yields 1999
Plant population
Harvest 1
Harvest 2
Total yield
D* Plots damaged by grasshoppers
All of the plots were replanted in the first week of December 1999. Establishment was acceptable for all
except Jarra, Maldonado and Red Flinders grass.
The plots were irrigated by subsurface dripper irrigation. Fertilisers were applied in the irrigation water
in 2000. The harvest yields for 2000 and 2001 are presented in Table 3.
Katherine Rural Review
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Table 3. Yields of dry matter at harvest dates and total yields (tonnes/ha)
Yield at harvest date
*Yield data for Milgara in March was lost. Yield was estimated at five tonnes/ha
Results and discussion
Wallabies and grasshoppers can cause significant damage to forages.
The forage sorghum lines produced high forage yields. Sugargraze is a sweet sorghum line and is
more palatable than Jumbo and Silk. Milgara was the best legume in this demonstration.
As plant growth slows down during the June to August period, planting in August will allow
establishment before temperatures get too hot in October. Opportunistic harvests can be carried out
during breaks in the wet season, with a final harvest in June.
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Katherine Rural Review
AACo leaders’ forum
By Whitney Dollemore, Pastoral Research Officer, Katherine Pastoral Production
Recently 20 up-and-coming leaders from Northern Territory AACo properties spent the afternoon at the
Katherine Research Station (KRS). Leading hands, head stockmen and overseers visited KRS as part
of AACo’s Northern Region Leaders forum, which ran over several days and included sessions on
OH&S, leadership development, financial planning, and StockIT® training.
The afternoon at KRS aimed to lay the foundations for a communication highway between DPIF and
aspiring AACo leaders, enabling continued extension of industry-relevant research directly to those on
the ground. The aim of the afternoon was to provide an overview of DPIF cattle and rangelands
research and development, with a focus on what the science meant practically, day to day for station
One of the highlights of the afternoon was a bull selection activity using a few ‘bull-like’ specimens from
the audience! This led to animated discussions about the strengths and flaws of each ‘bull’. Needless
to say, after culling for conformation and deciding fertility was the top priority there was little
The AACo young leaders were also taken on a tour of KRS, which included irrigated forage production
and the newly developed research feeding pens. In the classroom, topics included tropical
crossbreeding options, factors affecting fertility and calf loss in commercial beef herds in northern
Australia, knowing your pasture species and other current rangelands research—all generated a great
deal of discussion.
Overall the KRS visit was very well received by participants who stated that it was “really informative”,
“directly relevant to their job,” and delivered by a “team that is very easy to understand and approach”.
The Katherine Pastoral Production team look forward to watching the young AACo staff develop into
progressive northern leaders.
Katherine Rural Review
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Emergency animal disease recognition training
John Eccles, Veterinary Officer, Katherine Research Station
The Katherine Animal Biosecurity Staff recently attended an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD)
recognition course, together with NT private veterinarians. The aim of the course was to ‘activate’
participants’ awareness so that early recognition of an emergency disease—including Foot-and-mouth
disease (FMD), rabies, or Australian bat lyssavirus—can be made should they be detected.
Early detection is the key to limiting the spread of any exotic disease, with the costs for eradication for
FMD ranging from an estimated $10 billion for a limited infected area, to an astronomical $70 billion
should the disease become widespread. We in the NT must regard ourselves as on the frontline in
Australia’s early detection capacity.
Veterinary pathologist Dr Cathy Shilton from the Berrimah Veterinary Laboratory
gives BPI staff and NT private veterinarians an update on the human health risks
relating to the Australian bat lyssavirus and the need for extreme caution in the
handling of bats
Peter Saville (BPI
Veterinarian Alice
Springs) presented us
with all the intricacies of
establishing a ‘Livestock
Standstill Exercise’. This
would be the immediate
reaction that would be
imposed once a highly
suspicious case of an
exotic disease such as
FMD was diagnosed. Live
shipments, abattoirs and
their products, sale yards,
and any movement of
cloven-hooved livestock
would be affected. All
movements would be
subject to an immediate
standstill. We simply can’t
afford to ignore the fact
that an invasion of a
serious exotic disease
may occur —it may not be
if, but when.
Awareness and
preparedness need to be
our key objectives.
Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Malcolm Anderson discussed the importance of reporting any notifiable
disease, of which there are around 105 in the NT. These include the endemic diseases (ones we
already have) as well as exotic and emerging diseases. Malcolm’s experience with the recent rabies
outbreak in Bali alerted us all to just how close some of these major exotics are to Australia.
P a g e | 12
Katherine Rural Review
Exercise Odysseus—the National Livestock Standstill
Exercise Program
If Australia is ever unfortunate enough to have an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), a critical
measure in limiting the spread will be to stop the movement of all susceptible livestock, initially for 72
hours. This is known as a National Livestock Standstill.
Later this year, the NT Animal Biosecurity Branch will be taking part in Exercise Odysseus—the
National Livestock Standstill Exercise Program—which will test our capacity to implement a livestock
standstill in the NT and nation-wide. Exercise Odysseus is aimed at enhancing government and
industry preparedness for, and implementation of, a national livestock standstill in response to an
outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
This will be a desktop exercise only, and will not involve stopping any livestock movements.
Nationally, Exercise Odysseus is a series of discussions, exercises, and field-based activities will be
held throughout 2014. The exercise scenario, which will be consistent across the program, is based on
a hypothetical outbreak of FMD, which is initially detected in Queensland.
It must be noted that this is an exercise only and there is no FMD in Australia. The objectives of the
exercise are to:
assess national, jurisdictional and industry arrangements for implementing and managing a
livestock standstill
assess mechanisms for communicating a national livestock standstill and their effectiveness
assess coordination within and between government and non-government agencies and
industry, prior to, and during a national livestock standstill.
A national planning team is in place for Exercise Odysseus, representing government agencies
responsible for biosecurity, livestock and associated industries, and Animal Health Australia.
Discussions and exercises are planned for the NT on 30 July 2014 in Alice Springs and 13 August 2014
in Darwin. These will be preceded by regional workshops to familiarise stakeholders with the potential
impact of foot-and-mouth disease, the purpose of a livestock standstill, and the roles of various
agencies and stakeholders in the implementation of a standstill. These include industry, the Northern
Territory Cattlemen’s Association, stock agents, export and trucking yards, NT Department of
Transport, and Darwin Port Corporation.
Invitations to the workshops and exercises will be circulated soon and we hope that this important
activity will be supported by all concerned.
The NT Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries contacts for Exercise Odysseus are:
Darwin District Coordinator, Graham Schultz (8999 2206 / 0401 111 181)
Katherine District Coordinator, John Eccles (8973 9716 / 0437 527 372)
Tennant Creek Coordinator, Tom Haines (8962 4458 / 0401 113 445)
Alice Springs District Coordinator, Greg Crawford (8951 8125 / 0401 118 125)
Anyone requiring further information on the exercise or clarification please contact Exercise
Coordinator, Peter Saville, on (08) 8951 8181 or 0401 118 181.
New Workplace Health & Safety campaign to start in May
The Northern Territory cattle industry will be the focus of a work health and safety (WHS) campaign
scheduled for May 2014. The campaign will focus on providing information and assistance to cattle
station owners and workers to help them understand their responsibility to provide a safe workplace
under work health and safety legislation.
NT Worksafe workers’ compensation statistics shows that in the cattle industry between 2009 and
2013, there were several fatalities and 792 incidents resulting in workers’ compensation claims. Over
five years, claims cost the industry $24,443,733.
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The top three causes of workplace incidents were: being hit by an animal (29% of claims); falls from a
height (25% of claims); and vehicle incidents (17% of claims).
NT Worksafe Officers will commence workplace visits to selected cattle stations across the Territory
from May to September 2014. The workplace visits will provide:
information to raise awareness of WHS operational roles and responsibilities of the station
owner, station managers, supervisors, workers and contractors
information on safety inductions for new workers and contractors
information on conducting risk assessments on workplace hazards including farm machinery
and equipment.
The campaign is part of a national initiative aimed at reducing the risk of death and injury associated
with agriculture in Australia, with each jurisdiction focusing on different facets of the agriculture sector.
For additional information, visit www.worksafe.nt.gov.au
New faces: Mook Crothers
Mook Crothers
Born and raised: Gawler, SA
Position: Quarantine Officer of Biosecurity and Product
Backstory: Mook first came to Katherine in 1988 for a
three month stint as a weeds officer with the Department of
Primary Industry and Fisheries. Mook enjoyed the
community and the scenery so much, he has stayed for
eight years.
Mook next became Landcare Co-ordinator for the
Department of Lands Planning and Environment. After
seven years there, Mook moved on to Greening Australia
where he enjoyed participating in community projects.
More recently, he worked with the Katherine Regional Group School, managing infrastructure, fleet
repairs and maintenance.
Through his experiences, Mook has developed a strong passion for natural resource management and
enjoys working with land managers in the Katherine Region to help them achieve their production
Role at KRS: Mook’s current role with DPIF has him undertaking audits for Interstate Certification
Assurance programs, and conducting banana freckle surveillance, fruit fly monitoring and myrtle rust
Free WHS Act compliance assistance available for NT farmers
and pastoralists
Primary Industries Safety Advice (PISAFE) is a project to address the high number of workers’
compensation claims from those working in primary industries. Organisations representing these
industries include the NT Cattlemen’s Association, NT Seafood Council, and the NT Farmers’
Association. Each of the industries has a high incidence of muscular skeletal injuries, falls, and workers
being hit by objects.
The project is funded by government and can offer free assistance for organisations to meet legal
obligations under the WHS Act 2012. Resources include checklists for employers to use in managing
their WHS system.
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Katherine Rural Review
Work health and safety manuals contain generic WHS material, with industry-specific variations-avoiding mango sap burn for mango farmers, and cattle yard safety for pastoralists, for example.
Using a Safety Management System (SMS), the manager or owner of a cattle station, farm or seafood
business can demonstrate they regularly maintain equipment and appraise with WHS in mind. The
manuals will help in this regard when inducting new employees, for example—the employee’s
signature verifies they have received the training.
The manual is user friendly and by working through it and making minor modifications,, the result is a
record of management striving to improve awareness and access to work health and safety
Visits and workshops are offered by Rod Smith, the Project Officer on site. Materials will be monitored
and updates will occur through the PITAC website at www.pitac.org.au. For more information about the
PISAFE program, refer to NTCA, NTFA, and NTSC.
For further details, contact Rod Smith, WHS Project Officer, Primary Industries Safety Advice
Phone 8981 0055 or 0488 944 551, or email: [email protected]
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Why pastures matter:
what are the major pasture species?
why are certain species important for maintaining land condition and cattle condition?
how does pasture quantity and quality change throughout the year?
Weed management:
learn to identify various weeds and strategies for preventing, managing and controlling
weeds on station.
Fire management:
fire can be more than just a threat to livestock and infrastructure. If used properly, fire
can also be a valuable land management tool.
Animal nutrition:
learn more about the digestive system and nutritiional requirements of cattle, as well as
wet and dry season supplementation strategies.
Manager for a day:
in the paddock, discuss pasture types, pasture monitoring, requirements of cattle, and
stocking rates. Around the table, develop a station plan incorporating all the issues
discussed during the day.
For more details contact:
Katherine Research Station
Trisha Cowley
08 8973 9770
[email protected]
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Jodie Ward
08 8973 9730
[email protected]
Katherine Rural Review
Round the Region
Above left: Cows making the
most of the phosphorus
supplementation being fed out
this wet season
Above right: Action on the
Ground trial site. Grant and
Johnny take soil samples for
chemical analysis prior to
treatment application
Left: No temperament issues
here! Whitney Dollemore,
Pastoral Production Officer,
was asked for a scratch while
checking on the Selected
Brahman Herd earlier this
month, preparing for the annual
bull sale in September
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Katherine region events calendar
2014 AUSVEG National Convention, Trade
Show and Awards for Excellence
Kidman Springs Field Day
International Horticultural Congress
NT Field Days
19–21 June
13 August
[email protected]
[email protected]
Please email us with updates of events happening in your area: [email protected]
If undelivered
please return to:
PO Box 1346
Katherine NT 0851
While all care has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is true and correct at the time of publication, the Northern Territory
of Australia gives no warranty or assurance, and makes no representation as to the accuracy of any information or advice contained in this publication,
or that it is suitable for your intended use. No serious business or investment decisions should be made in reliance on this information without
obtaining independent and professional advice or both in relation to your particular situation.
Reproduction of Rural Review articles
The Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries (DPIF) welcomes the reproduction of articles appearing in this newsletter, but requests that the
technical information be confirmed with the editor or author, prior to publication. The department also requests that acknowledgement be made for any
original work sourced from the Katherine Rural Review.
Katherine Rural Review
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