How do farmers decide when to renew their pasture?

AbacusBio Breeder, Winter 2012, p. 4

Pasture renewal can be an expensive business but is essential for long-term farm profitability. This is especially the case in Australia where high summer temperatures can destroy a paddock of perennial ryegrass, or an unseasonal wet season can drown an excellent stand of lucerne.

These risks and others associated with when and where to sow, can make resowing a risky business. Kevin Smith, consultant with the Australian arm of AbacusBio, says that “understanding the rationale behind farmers’ decisions when re-sowing assists consultants, plant breeders and seed companies to focus their programmes on the real needs of their clients. This has led Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to get AbacusBio to help identify the key drivers of producers’ decision-making around re-sowing”.

Kevin explains “we have been using the 1000minds software to conduct an online survey of producers in three of the environmentally-defined regions of Australia: these are the high-rainfall temperate region, the inland temperate region and the Mediterranean region.”

“Our aim has been to express producers’ preferences in financial terms so that we can establish the relative economic values of everything from yield across season to the importance of persistence and the risk around establishment.”

The results will be used as part of MLA’s decision-making for investment in the future.

1000minds was developed by Paul Hansen & Franz Ombler at the University of Otago for applications in healthcare but has found wide application in a number of other areas.