What is Best Practice agriculture?
Sustainable Agriculture is the managed growing and harvesting of crops and pastures minimizing the negative impact on the environment, improving soil health, increasing biological diversity, and controlling pests. Sustainable agriculture is dependent on a whole system approach having as its focus the long term health of the land, water, environment and people. Sustainable Agriculture concentrates on long term solutions to problems instead of short term treatment of symptoms. The use of chemicals and similar synthetic inputs are reduced, the land develops biological diversity and resilience that further reduces the need for agriculture chemicals.
Every primary producer has an aim to achieve industry Best-Practice, (world's highest standards) the most effective and efficient method of achieving personal and business goals with the least risk possible to those involved. That is ensuring that all activity is designed to minimise risk and maximise the positive outcomes. Best Practice generally leads the scientific world with innovation. Sometimes it takes decades before science proves what farmers already know.
Grazing BMP - A Green Future a short video presentation.
What is Grazing BMP (Best Practice in Grazing)?
Although there has been a lot of hype about grazing bmp since 2012, this website has been operating since 2006 and many graziers have been heading down this road for many years. Grazing BMP or Grazing Best Practice is a term used to explain a group of activities or practices, which are deemed to be the most ideal practices to enable a continual improvement in the condition of the water resources, biodiversity, landscape, soil, plants, microbes, animals, business and people involved. These activities will lead to a set of standards including ground cover, water quality, pasture production/ quality, livestock management, weight gain per hectare, profitability and so on. Within the grazing industry, these practices may include, planned or managed grazing which will lead to high ground cover (min 80%), healthy pastures, increased pasture production, high organic matter (min of 4.0 %), increased water holding capacity and higher animal welfare standards.
Within the grazing industry, there are a number of management practices being used including:
- Conventional management (set stocking),
- Rotational or planned grazing systems,
- Chemical free and many more.
The key to using any of the management systems is to recognise that the whole industry has an important role to play in improving our key resources. It is worth understanding each system to enable you to best manage your resources for the future of your family and land.
- Vegetation Health (pasture and trees)
- Soil Health (Nutrients, microbes and structure)
- Carbon Sequestration (soil, vegetation and atmosphere)
- Water Quality (rainfall, in soil and underground)
- Nutrients (soil, plant and atmosphere)
- Food Security (meat, fibre, fruit & vegies quality and quantity)
- Animal and crop health/ nutrition
- People and safety
- Business/ Marketing
As a grazier or farmer there are so many areas which require management within the grazing business, that the job is becoming impossible for small family operators to manage. Often when we conduct farm audits, it is clear that many families are simply over burdened with green tape and they cannot see the forest for the trees (so to speak). Grazing BestPrac provide a number of services to support families and corporations within these industries. The Grazing BMP website has the latest cutting edge information available and is regularly updated with new information, research and data as it becomes available. Please also check the CQ BestPrac website and the Best-practice Groups website for more information.
The standards for "Best-Practice" in grazing commonly called "grazing BMP" and in cropping commonly called "grains BMP" or "cropping / farming BMP" are evolving month by month as new information and techniques become available. In the past decade, worldwide, the industries have had many issues to deal with including vegetation management, water management, animal nutrition, soil and plant health, workplace health and safety, animal welfare and technology. In fact these industries have had more changes than any other industry in the world and still very few standards have been established.
Industry BMP's in Australia:
- The most advanced BMP is being managed by the cotton industry and is called myBMP and can be found at http://www.mybmp.com.au. This is the most complete module with support.
- The second BMP to be established in agriculture is the grains BMP at http://www.grainsbmp.com.au
- The third BMP and still being developed is the Grazing BMP at http://www.bmpgrazing.com.au
What is Best Practice in Cropping (Grains BMP)
The grains bmp has been discussed and in development since about 2008 with the FBA in Queensland working in conjunction with QDPI and Agforce Qld. This program has achieved some goals with numbers of farmers in central Queensland attending bmp workshops and implementing mostly machinery modifications. Grains BMP or Grains Best Practice is a term used to explain a group of activities or practices, which are deemed to be the most ideal practices to enable a continual improvement in the condition of the water resources, biodiversity, landscape, soil, plants, microbes, animals, business and people involved. These activities will lead to a set of standards including erosion levels, runoff levels, ground cover levels, water quality, crop production/ quality, yields, profitability and so on. Within the grains industry, these practices may include zero-tillage which may lead to increased ground cover, reduced runoff, reduced erosion, reduced soil carbon loss, increased profits and need to be balanced with possibly higher chemical usage. On the other hand, a biological farming practice may lead to increased ground cover, reduced runoff, reduced erosion, increase in soil carbon, increased profits and healthier soil.
Within the grains industry, there are a multitude of management systems being used including:
- Conventional farming
- Minimum tillage
- Crop rotations
- Biological farming
- Organic farming
- Biodynamic farming
- Chemical free
The key to any system you choose to use is to IMPROVE SOIL HEALTH, CARBON LEVELS, NUTRIENT CYCLING, PLANT HEALTH and YIELD.
Agricultural (Grazing & Grains) BMP Survey
In the past decade many of our farming and grazing clients have developed a list of issues and levels of achievement, which you can utilise to begin an assessment of your enterprise/ business, measure the risk level and take appropriate action. Agricultural (Grazing and Grains) BMP Survey (Excel)