Long-Term Carrying Capacity Report (prototype)

What is a long-term carrying capacity report?


The FORAGE Long-Term Carrying Capacity report is a multi-page report together with two accessory spreadsheets, to provide the estimated long-term "safe” carrying capacity (LTCC) for the selected Lot(s) on Plan located in Queensland. Long-term carrying capacity in this report refers to the "number of livestock that a property or land parcel can support over a long period (i.e. decades) without running down the property’s land condition" (i.e. the grass basal area, pasture composition and groundcover). In this report, the LTCC is measured as the total adult equivalents (AEs; 450 kg cattle consuming 8kg DM/day) that can be safely carried for a property or land parcel (also shown as hectares required per AE unit). Please note the range of AE values in the total LTCC supplied in the report (i.e. in “A” condition).

The calculation of the LTCC for a property (land parcel or land parcel) is based on a number of factors, including:

  • the long-term median annual native pasture growth;
  • the safe utilisation rate of the pastures;
  • the property topography and tree density.

Native pasture growth is calculated from the GRASP model using parameters for Grazing Land Management (GLM) land types, the tree density on the property and the historical climate data for the property of interest (sourced from the SILO climate database).

Utilisation of pasture growth by livestock is set at a rate that is not likely to cause long-term property degradation and to allow recovery after drought. For “Mulga” GLM land types, livestock consumption of "topfeed" (i.e. feeding mulga leaves) is considered in the calculation of the LTCC. However, introduced pasture species such as buffel grass and stylos along with pasture irrigation and fertiliser application are not considered in the pasture growth calculation.

Note: The LTCC estimates provided in the report are intended as a guide for long-term grazing assessment and significant management of property grazing pressure is still required on a season to season basis (i.e. forage budgeting).

 

What you receive when you request a long-term carrying capacity report?


On requesting a Long-Term Carrying Capacity report you will receive 3 files by email. The files are:

  • a “Long-Term Carrying Capacity” report (PDF)
  • an Excel spreadsheet showing the long-term carrying capacity for all the land parcels. The spreadsheet can be used to calculate long-term carrying capacity for land parcels under different land conditions.
  • an Excel spreadsheet showing long-term carrying capacity for different combinations of land parcel vs land type.

 

Report sample and guides


LTCC report sample ( PDF).

2-page "quick guide" for the LTCC report ( PDF).

A more detailed description of the LTCC report and accessory files are available in the FORAGE User Guide ( PDF).

 

 

Common questions about long-term carrying capacity report


The LTCC report provides an automated assessment of the "number of livestock that a land parcel or property can potentially support over a long period (i.e. decades) without causing a reduction in property land condition". The report should be regarded as a starting point in a process to consider estimated long-term “safe” carrying capacity and is designed to be used by extension providers in conjunction with graziers. The LTCC report can be used for grazing property purchases and sales and to assist in stock and property management decisions.  

Note: the information supplied in the report is intended as a guide for long-term grazing assessment and significant management of property grazing pressure is still required on a season to season basis (i.e. forage budgeting).

Long-term “safe” carrying capacity is defined as the number of livestock that a land parcel or property can potentially support over a long period (i.e. decades) with no decline in the property’s land condition. For this reason, the period of time should include 2-4 wet and dry cycles to capture sufficient variability of rainfall and pasture growth – and to allow recovery after drought. Long-term carrying capacity is not to be confused with the seasonal or annual stocking rate, which is a short-term measure that is used with seasonal carrying capacity or annual forage budgeting.

There are two Excel spreadsheets attached in the email along with the LTCC report. The spreadsheet with the filename “CarryingCapacityFor_Paddock_LandTypes_dataOutput” provides the user with the data for each Lot/Plan (or land parcel) x land type combination. It includes the pasture growth for each land parcel and land type combination, based on the average FPC for that paddock and land type combination. A value for the pasture growth and land type combination at “0 FPC” (Foliage Projected Cover) is also given. These growth values are indicative only and is not recommended to use for calculating total pasture growth.

The second spreadsheet with the filename “CarryingCapacityFor_Paddocks_adjustLandCondition” is provided to make land condition adjustments to the pre-calculated numbers featured in the original report. Users can modify: 1) the area available for grazing/ungrazed; 2) the land condition state to reflect actual land parcel condition state distribution, rather than the default “A” condition shown in the automated report. The percentages across “A-D” land condition must sum to 100%. The adjusted LTCC can then be compared to “A” condition in the automated report.

It is instructive to show how raising the land parcel condition percentage areas can lift the LTCC total AEs. Improving land condition can facilitate higher productivity.

Pasture growth is calculated from the GRASP model using parameters for Grazing Land Management (GLM) land types, the tree density on the property and the historical climate data for the property of interest (sourced from the SILO climate database).

The LTCC report uses the current version of Grazing Land Management (GLM) land type mapping (updated February 2019) and the approximate area of each land type with the selected area. Land types are areas of grazing land with similar soil, vegetation and capacity to produce useful feed. For further information on GLM land types, go to www.futurebeef.com.au.

LTCC is measured as the total adult equivalents (AEs; 450 kg cattle consuming 8kg DM/day) that can be safely carried for a land parcel or property and is also shown as hectares required per AE unit.

The calculation of the LTCC for a property or land parcel is based on a number of factors, including:

  • the long-term median annual pasture growth;
  • the safe utilisation rate of the pastures;
  • the property topography and tree density;
  • discounting is applied to B, C, and D land condition at 75%, 45% and 20% (respectively) from “A” land condition. This can also be modified in the attached spreadsheet (see FAQ What are the attached spreadsheets for in the LTCC report email?) or read from the tables in the main report.

No, stocking rates are a measurement of the number of animals on a given land area over a certain period of time. The long-term carrying capacity is an assessment of the "number of livestock that a land parcel or property can support over a long period (i.e. decades) without reducing land condition". A shorter-term “Forage budget” is required to calculate the number of animals that can safely be grazed on a given land area for a particular time period (see Stocktake).

The information in the LTCC report is indicative only. A number of factors (e.g. rainfall, land type mapping, land condition, pasture species) at the property location, may result in the LTCC in the report being different to what is observed at the property scale. Introduced pasture species such as buffel grass and stylos, along with pasture irrigation and fertiliser application are not considered in the pasture growth calculation.

Additional information such as property rainfall data, land condition and pasture species can improve the analysis to provide a better estimate of the long-term carrying capacity for the property. A dynamic property mapping tool (MyForage) is under development so that the user can include information that is more specific at the property location.

Yes, a dynamic property mapping tool (MyForage) is being developed, which will allow the user to modify or upload a paddock and water point shapefile to request a LTCC report. This additional information can improve the analysis to provide a better estimate of the long-term carrying capacity for the property.

 

For information on how to interpret the report, please see FORAGE User Guide ( PDF).

If you have any questions or comments regarding the LTCC report, please email the Long Paddock team at longpaddock@qld.gov.au.

Last updated: 27 October 2020