Tropical Grasslands (2007) Volume 41, 245–252

A contemporary assessment of land condition in the Northern Gulf region of Queensland

K.A. SHAW1, J.W. ROLFE1, B.H. ENGLISH1 AND J.C. KERNOT2

1 Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Kairi, and
2 Mareeba, Queensland, Australia

Abstract

A framework using assessments of soil condition, pasture composition and woodland density was applied to describe 14 grazing land types as being in A (100% of original carrying capacity), B (75%), C (45%) or D (20%) condition. We assessed the condition of 260 sites, principally along public and some station roads, to provide a benchmark for current land condition. Land types were also assigned relative grazing values between 10 (best) and 0, reflecting soil fertility and potential biomass production. The method identifies particular, ‘at-risk&rsquo land types for priority investment of resources, while the rationale behind assessments might point to management interventions to improve the condition of those land types.
Across all land types, 47% of sites were in A condition, 34% in B condition, 17% in C condition and only 2% in D condition. Seventy-five percent of land types with grazing values >5 were in A or B condition, compared with 88% for those with grazing values ≤5. For Georgetown granites, only 27% of sites were in A or B condition, with values for other land types being: alluvials 59%, black soils 64% and red duplex soils 57%, suggesting that improving management of these land types is a priority issue. On land types with high grazing value, the major discounting factor was pasture composition (72% of sites discounted), while increasing woodland density was the main discount (73% of sites discounted) on low grazing value land types.

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