Tropical Grasslands (2007) Volume 41, 229–233

Economics of pastures versus grain or forage crops

P. WYLIE

Horizon Rural Management, Dalby, Queensland, Australia

Abstract

The relative profitability of livestock and cropping fluctuates with livestock and grain prices. In recent years, high beef prices and low grain prices have meant that well managed pastures have been more profitable than grain crops, particularly where grain yields are restricted by soil constraints. However, over the last 15 months, world grain prices have doubled and the economics of pastures versus grain and forage crops have changed.
While grain production is likely to regain predominance as the most profitable farming enterprise on the better farming land of the Darling Downs, pastures are still likely to produce profits comparable with grain on a per hectare basis, where soil type or land degradation limits grain potential to modest yields. Nitrogen benefits and improvements to soil health are likely to provide a bonus.
Pastures appear to be a more profitable and sustainable option than forage crops for cultivation on sloping lands of the Darling Downs and the western Downs. Livestock producers should seriously consider the benefits of pastures versus forage cropping and put a value on soil structure, erosion and fertility decline.

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