Bookham Grazing Demonstration – 25 years on

South East Local Land Services, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Binalong Landcare and Bookham Agricultural Bureau will come together on Thursday, August 24 at the Bookham Hall to offer land managers the opportunity to hear the latest results from two well respected field trials in the Bookham district.

The Native Pasture and Alternative Fertilizer Project conducted in Binalong and Bookham.

The Native Pasture and Alternative Fertilizer Project conducted in Binalong and Bookham.

The first is the Bookham Grazing Demonstration which has been running for 25 years (1992 – 2017), one of very few field grazing projects demonstrating such longevity. This longevity and consistency is quite rare and has meant that the project and its findings have led to significant practice change among land managers across the Southern Tablelands and further afield.

The importance of this project goes beyond just its initial purpose and has had an impact in a range of key areas in the grazing sector. Firstly it has changed the way native based pastures are valued, helping to benchmark what these pastures are capable of. Secondly it has proved to be a useful site to measure soil carbon changes over time. The 13 years of fertilising has highlighted the positive implications on increasing soil carbon compared to a nil fertilised situation.

The demonstration was collaboratively initiated by Bookham Agricultural Bureau and agricultural advisory staff with Yass CRT, back in 1992, with DPI taking over in the mid-nineties. The project set out to look at the profitability of using single superphosphate on native based pasture being run for fine wool production. The grazing site consists of native perennial based pastures.

There was a specific focus of looking at wool micron and the resultant effects that single super might have on micron and hence profitability. Key economic, livestock and pasture findings, based on data collected over the 25 year period, will be presented on the day.

The second project to be discussed at the seminar is the Native Pasture and Alternative Fertilizer Project conducted in the Binalong and Bookham areas over the period 2009 to 2016.

Fertilizer application ceased on the field trial sites in 2014. Fertilizer cost effectiveness monitoring continued in 2015 and 2016 based on pasture growth measurements taken after locking up for a period of approximately 20 weeks running from late Autumn to mid Spring each year.

These latter results will be discussed in relation to earlier cost effectiveness data collected over the initial six year period which has been presented at previous field days.

A strong interest was also shown by producers to better understand if there was any evidence of the alternative and conventional fertilizers having an impact on the soil microbial community compared to the nil fertilizer control treatment. Soil microbial diversity findings based on DNA analysis of soil collected in the sixth year (2014) of the project under the various fertilizer treatments, will also be presented at the seminar.

Please join Phil Graham, NSW DPI and Fiona Leech, South East Local Land Services to hear key findings from these two eminent medium to long-term projects of important relevance to the grazing sector.

The seminar will commence at 9.30am and run through to 2pm. Morning tea will be served on arrival at the Bookham Hall at 9:30am and lunch also provided free of charge. An RSVP is essential for catering purposes. Please RSVP by August, 21 by phoning 4824 3700 or email: vicki.saville@dpi.nsw.gov.au. The Bookham War Memorial Hall is located in the small village of Bookham adjacent to the Hume Highway.