Snapshot

Location: “Karalee”, 10 km east of Enngonia, North-West NSW

Property size: 71,567 ha

Average annual rainfall: 320mm

Enterprise: Beef cattle breeding, and harvesting rangeland goats

Achievements:

  • Implemented grazing monitoring and management.
  • Improved land and animal performance.
  • Decision triggers in place and increased profitability.                                                                                         

Drivers of Success:

  • Regular feed budgeting
  • Training and ongoing education
  • Mentoring and peer network support                                                

RCS services used:

Building Resilience: Enngonia Farmers Share Drought-Proofing Success.

Martha Lindstad and partner Robert James are farm managers on ‘Karalee’, Enngonia NSW. Both have travelled different paths to being where they are.

Martha is originally from Norway, growing up on a three hectare farm before travelling to New Zealand and eventually the Pilbara in Western Australia.

It was here that she saw the benefits of sustainable farming for the country and livestock.

“When I came to Australia I worked on Yarrie station in the Pilbara, working for five mustering seasons,” Martha said.

“My boss at the time, Annabelle Coppin, was very passionate about land management and land conservation, which opened my eyes to the opportunities to improve the country through grazing.”

It was there that she met Robert, a Western Australian local with a long history in agriculture.

“I grew up as a bush kid across Western Australia and in the Northern Territory”, Robert said.

“Mum and Dad have always been station managers or managing pastoral properties — I just wanted to stay in the bush and work on the land.”

In 2022, Martha and Robert had the opportunity to move across the country to manage ‘Karalee’ for SLM Partners – a farm management group focusing on building regenerative, resilient and profitable land systems.

Picture: Martha Lindstad and partner Robert James are farm managers on ‘Karalee’, Enngonia NSW.

Farming in an unforgiving environment

Martha’s farming experiences in Australia and Norway are quite different.

“Here in Australia, the environment can be unforgiving and very harsh, with droughts, fires and floods,” Martha said.

“You really need to excel your management — don’t get anything for free in a sense.”

Martha and Robert joined the RCS Drought Resilient Soils and Landscapes Program in 2022 to improve their land management knowledge and grow their grazing network.

The program saw them join 23 other grazing businesses across the southern Queensland and the northern NSW rangelands to develop drought-resilient practices.

Since then, they have utilised grazing tools and implemented better management into ‘Karalee’, with a focus on matching stocking rate to carrying capacity.

Video Explainer: Click the play button below and see practice change in action at "Karalee".

Building resilience into ‘Karalee’

The RCS Drought Resilient Soils and Landscapes program gave Martha and Robert access to training, mentoring, business tools and a supportive network. Through the program they were able to:

  • learn regenerative grazing management principles by attending a 2.5-day RCS Grazing Clinic
  • learn business management principles by attending a 12 week online Business Fundamentals Workshop
  • turn this new knowledge into skills and implement improvements on-ground through regular access to an RCS mentor
  • build momentum and a support network through sharing experiences within a grazier peer group facilitated by RCS
  • receive guidance for the MaiaGrazing software platform to record and report on grazing management, with product mentoring by a dedicated team of RCS-trained graziers
  • access the regional Drought Resilience Innovation Hub and associated partner networks
  • share and learn through a combination of project case studies, field days and events to showcase drought resilience improvements within their community.

 

This project is supported by RCS, through funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

Training was the way forward

What’s changed for Martha and Robert?

The RCS Drought Resilient Soils and Landscapes Program has given Martha and Robert the tools and knowledge to better manage their grazing and groundcover.

“The program and grazing clinic was a big paradigm shift and helped us better budget our feed — it’s been a massive help,” said Robert.

Martha, too, has found the program transformative.

“I’ve never experienced a drought, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can,” she said.

“Through the program and coaching, we now have our feed budgets in place and aren’t stressing about what’s ahead of us.

“We’re not constantly thinking about what we need to do — we know how many months of feed are ahead of us.

“The Soil and Landscapes project is certainly helping us improve our grazing management and making better decisions.”

Through the course they have also had access to MaiaGrazing; a tool to plan and manage their grazing.

“MaiaGrazing has been very useful in actively managing our grazing and groundcover, especially being able to update the data while in the paddock,” Robert said.

Support in the paddock

RCS mentor, Raymond Stacey, has been working with Martha and Robert to help put their learnings into action. 

“The Drought Resilient Soils and Landscapes project is about supporting graziers to manage their country and businesses better,” Raymond said.

“It’s about supporting graziers to build resilience in their landscapes and in their businesses.

“We’re moving away from the perpetual cycle of boom and bust. The droughts are not a disaster — they’re just a low patch to be managed.”

Robert and Martha have worked closely with Raymond on their grazing management in particular.

“It’s been fantastic, the coaches have a very broad experience across different landscapes and vegetation,” Robert said.

“We’ve had regular catch ups every month to six weeks with a mentor and can ask questions any time.”

Outcomes for drought resilience

  • Learning to feed budget, observe animals and adjust grazing plan
  • Reduced pressure by identifying actions and setting dates based on grazing plan
  • Established 6 new monitoring sites
  • Using forecasts to improve available pasture
  • Data-driven decision-making to futureproof the business
  • Fenced an additional four paddocks and a 14km laneway
  • Installed 17km of pipe and 6 new water points across a 3,000ha block
  • Trialled dividing dense paddocks into smaller blocks using electrical tape
  • Host for two field days demonstrating drought resilient practices
  • Reduced pressure by planning, monitoring and managing
  • Developed vision and goals
  • Training: 2.5 day RCS Grazing Clinic, Business Fundamentals Workshop, MaiaGrazing platform
  • RCS coaching and mentoring through a combination of one-on-one and grazier peer group sessions.

 

Find out more about the RCS Drought Resilient Soils and Landscapes Program.

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