Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Innovation conference first step in regional approach for Goldfields pastoralists

[Sept-Oct 2016]

A pastoral industry innovation conference was held in the Goldfields this month to facilitate a regional approach to land management.

Held at Hampton Hill Station near Kalgoorlie from 6–7 October, the ‘Kalgoorlie Innovation Conference 2016’ was supported by Rangelands NRM (through the National Landcare Programme); the Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission (GEDC) (through Royalties for Regions) and run in conjunction with the Meat and Livestock Australia/Australian Wool Innovation (MLA/AWI) Pastoral Profit initiative.

By supporting greater alignment between the Goldfields Nullarbor Rangelands Biosecurity Association (GNRBA), Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission and MLA/AWI initiatives, it is hoped a regional approach to land management throughout the region can be facilitated.

Rangelands NRM’s Southern Rangelands Program Manager Kieran Massie said those attending received invaluable information in support of practice change options for improved land management outcomes.

“There was a diverse range of speakers, presenting on topics including trends in the livestock market (Ben Thomas, Meat and Livestock Australia), sustainable business planning principles (Matt Winter, Growing Australia), succession planning (Rosemary Bartle, Rabobank) and situational distress in remote WA (Terry Melrose, Regional Men’s Health Initiative),” Mr Massie said.

Mr Massie said the presentation from Catherine Marriott of the Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen’s Association (KPCA) was particularly insightful sharing some reflections on the challenges and successes of the KPCA as they work towards improving the lot of pastoralists and the broader industry in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions.

“She showed the success that can be achieved through producer-led collaboration throughout the rangelands of WA,” he said.

In her capacity as WA Livestock Research Council (WALRC) Coordinator, Erin Gorter provided an overview of the framework through which pastoralists and other livestock producers can help inform the future funding of industry research and development.

Executive Officer of the GNRBA Ross Wood provided participants with an overview of some recent work undertaken by the GNRBA including the Wild Dog Remote Sensing Trial (funded by Rangelands NRM), combining the on-ground knowledge of pastoralists with GIS to inform more targeted and effective aerial baiting programs, and a recent trial of the Cochineal bug in addressing prickly pear cactus infestations in the Goldfields.

Peter Cooke from Agknowledge also provided an overview of the ongoing development of the State Wild Dog Action Plan and some potential on-ground activities which may emerge for pastoralists in the southern rangelands.

A producer panel discussion, facilitated by Mr Wood saw Mark Forrester, Brendon and Bart Jones, Trevor Hodshon and Justin Stevens sharing their stories and ideas for rebuilding carrying capacity and industry sustainability in the Goldfields and Nullarbor regions.

Mr Massie said it is hoped the event will increase regional collaboration amongst Goldfields pastoralists and other land managers.

“Forums such as the Kalgoorlie Innovation Conference 2016 are incredibly important and provide an opportunity for a two-way exchange of expertise and knowledge between pastoralists and other land management stakeholders in the region,” he said.

The GNRBA and the Kalgoorlie Pastoral Alliance will work in partnership with other interested stakeholders to pursue initiatives aimed at: continuing control of priority pests; increasing capacity of local groups to improve the productivity of rangelands in the Goldfields and Nullarbor regions; and increasing understanding of the operating environment and tackling land management challenges.