REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE: 2019 Reef Champion Finalists in the Reef Sediment Champion Award, Russell and Catriona Murdoch.
REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE: 2019 Reef Champion Finalists in the Reef Sediment Champion Award, Russell and Catriona Murdoch.

More groundcover, biodiversity back, yield up

North Burnett beef producers Russell and Catriona Murdoch’s work to use regenerative agriculture to achieve both ecological and financial improvements within their grazing business were this week recognised when they were finalists in the Reef Champion Awards in Mackay.

The Awards, where the Murdochs were finalists in the Reef Sediment Champion category, recognise outstanding individuals or organisations who have taken action to improve the quality of the water entering the Great Barrier Reef.

The Murdochs’ regenerative agriculture journey began three years ago when they relocated to

1900ha ‘Holroyd’ at Booubyjan near Gayndah from southern New South Wales in a bid to expand their beef operation.

“When we arrived at Holroyd it was rundown and had scorched areas of land due to overgrazing and limited watering points,” the couple said.

“We saw a lot of potential to create a sustainable and profitable grazing operation that also prioritised soil and ecological health.”

They implemented a rotational grazing system which better used pasture, decreased how far cattle had to walk to water, and protected riparian zones.

“By creating those smaller lots and implementing significant rest periods for each paddock with rotational grazing, we’ve been able to greatly improve our utilisation of pasture and increase our pasture yields fourfold,” the Murdochs said.

“At the same time, we’ve protected the soil and ecological health.

“Since implementing regenerative practices there has been an increase in ground cover from 50 to 80 per cent across the property.

“Biodiversity has also spiked, and we’ve seen the return of a number of native legumes and blue grass – amongst other species.”

The Murdochs are involved with Project Pioneer, run by Resource Consulting Services (RCS), a $30,000 professional development package for graziers in the Great Barrier Reef catchments, which allows them to develop farm management capacity, grow property production, improve land condition and build a more profitable and resilient operation.

Mr Murdoch said the support of this program enabled he and his wife to transition to a full-time cattle operation.

He had worked off-farm for 30 years prior.