This project aimed to use the decision support system (DSS) GrassGro® developed by CSIRO to assist producers to manage climate variability.

Grazing systems are very complex and due to variable economic conditions and climate it is very difficult for producers, land managers and advisors to accurately predict the impact of management changes without the use of simulation modeling.

GrassGro® is a powerful tool which can be used to examine strategic decisions on farming systems or to look at the effect of anticipated weather conditions within a growing season.  It provides a powerful facility for analysing risk (climatic, economic and environmental) over both the short and long term.

MFS initially trained a selected group of members (16) in how to use the GrassGro® software to develop tailored farm systems for their enterprise.  It was envisioned that these farmers would then run relevant queries through their farm system that could be shared with peers within that geographical location with similar climate, soil and pasture types.  This group formed a “core group” of 8-10 members who persevered with the mentoring assistance of Doug Alcock to develop “farm systems” for their own individual farm enterprises.  Project activities also included several more general GrassGro® presentations demonstrating the ability to model enterprise type (wool, meat, beef), pasture performance systems and fertiliser strategies.  The Project delivered two timely Carbon Forums which attracted over 350 attendees and presented timely, factual information on climate change, soil carbon sequestration and emissions trading schemes.  It also provided a platform for the Monaro community to engage in the soil carbon / climate change debate.

The Project evolved to a point that MFS has now entered into a contractual arrangement with Doug to continue presenting “seasonal outlooks” at strategic decision making times of the year. These will include three annual tactical projections per year, each with a written report and one with a presentation at an MFS event.

GrassGro® analysis will continue to be firmly integrated into the majority of our project reporting especially in the area of enterprise analysis, seasonal outlooks and the genetic evaluation trial.

MFS would like to acknowledge the following as Project Funders & Contributors;
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, FarmReady Industry Grants
Landcare Australia / Woolworths Sustainable Farming Program