Location: Springsure, Central Queensland
Property size: 3,238 hectares
Currently runs: 1200 LSU
Average annual rainfall: 600mm
Enterprise: Beef cattle agistment
Drivers of Success:
Ideas for future innovation:
When the Lavel family took hold of Kelvin Downs in 2002, it was in a state of ecological decline. The beef cattle farm in Central Queensland was showing typical symptoms of limited watering points and heavy and continuous grazing management. Armed with a lot of ambition to create an improving ecosystem and a flourishing business, Mick Lavel got to work making changes and expanding his knowledge.
The same year the Lavels purchased Kelvin Downs, Mick attended the RCS Grazing Clinic and began expanding his knowledge. This accelerated a new level of thinking, which allowed other vital changes to unfold.
After completing the RCS Grazing Clinic, Mick went on to do GrazingforProfit®, followed by ExecutiveLink®, committing years to learning before graduating in 2009. Whilst studying, the Lavels’ business gained a lot of momentum from the support, inspiration, networking, accountability, and idea-sharing Mick found at RCS.
A firm believer that we cannot continue to sacrifice the health of the land to get an income, Mick thought long-term and accepted the time it would take to reap the rewards of his efforts.
Mick is a builder by trade, spending approximately half of his time off-farm, meaning Kelvin Downs needed to be a simple and low-maintenance operation. The systems he applied allow the land to regenerate with minimal human input, modelling systems that would occur in nature. The time they do spend working on the land is highly strategic. Kelvin Downs now utilises:
Kelvin Downs has undergone dramatic ecological improvements since the Lavels purchased the land in 2002. Strong advocates for taking meaningful ecological measurements, the Lavels record plant basal area, ground cover percentages, average annual LSU’s, Stock Days per Hectare per 100mm rainfall (SDH/100mm) and rolling rainfall. Pasture budgeting and photo monitoring also show the family when they are making progress in the ecosystem. Some of the benefits the Lavels have noted include:
The positive results from these new practices encouraged the family to purchase two neighbouring properties. The aggregation is now 3,238 hectares, divided into 265 paddocks.
With so much progress already made, the Lavels are rightfully making big plans for the future. Mick aims to increase complementary enterprises such as pigs and chickens, introducing free-range animals to mimic natural patterns. The family also aspires to create a learning or community centre at Kelvin Downs that allows people from cities to connect and learn about food production and the ecosystem, closing the divide between rural and urban communities.
Everything the Lavels do in their business aims to build an operation that improves soil biology, creating healthy food and healthy people. They have been able to persist in challenging times by staying focused, increasing knowledge and concentrating on continual personal development. This dedication to a good headspace will be carried into the future of Kelvin Downs for as long as Mick is at the helm.
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