Pasture Monitoring in the Rangelands

The Producer Demonstration Site (PDS): Pasture Monitoring in the Rangelands project commenced in 2022 with 4 producer sites established to monitor pasture productivity and groundcover percentages across 237,747 hectares.

The aim of this PDS project is to demonstrate that livestock businesses can increase productivity when using routine monitoring and managing key species in rangeland pastures.

Seasonal monitoring underway

Seasonal monitoring observations commenced in July 2022 and will continue until 2026 across the Oxley and Booligal region. Site observations and pasture samples of 4 key species are taken at the 4 sites in late summer and late winter by our staff.

Pasture samples are collected to understand the crude protein, digestibility and metabolizable energy of key species through feed test data results. Remote sensing tools, GeoGLAM and CiboLabs data, are used to measure groundcover and green cover at each observation time.

Therefore, monitoring observations are a combination of on-ground and satellite data.

Helping inform decision making

A key focus of the project is the decision making process, with key decision points being February and August, which are align to critical points in the pasture supply and demand curve for these regions.

The monitoring data collected will inform grazing management decisions, such as:

  • Will there be enough pasture for lambing and lactation?
  • Do I need to supplementary feed or destock the paddock?
  • Will I need to wean early?
  • How many livestock can I run on this paddock over summer?
  • Will I need to supplementary feed?

Core producers will meet in March and September each year to discuss their sites and share management ideas and learnings. A formal report will be written following each group meeting and shared with observer producers.

More work to be done

The project has entered its third year and we are looking forward to continuing some of the great work achieved to date and further engagement with participating landholders. The aim of the project is to demonstrate that livestock businesses can increase productivity when using routine monitoring and managing key species in rangeland pastures.

Key findings from 2022-23

Since the project commenced, some key findings include:

  • Between autumn and winter, the composition of the most nutritionally valuable plants did not change on two of the monitoring sites.
  • On the remaining sites, where a species has been surpassed in nutritional value, this was due to the seasonal availability of plants, rather than a change in nutritional value.
  • The most nutritionally available plants in August 2023 were Burr Medic (Medicago polymorpha), Barley Grass (Hordeum leporinum) and Bladder Saltbush (Atriplex vesicaria).
  • It must also be noted, that although these species might be most nutritionally valuable and readily available in the paddock, due to grazing preferences of sheep/cattle, these species might not make up the largest portion of the livestock’s diet in all cases.

This year, the project will continue to track the feed quality of key rangeland pasture species at various stages and how this influences livestock production in Western NSW.

Want to know more?

For further information on the project, please contact Christine Plummer via or 0408 241 200.

We will provide regular project updates via the Western LLS Facebook page and our monthly newsletter, be sure to follow and subscribe to these channels if you haven’t already. This producer demonstration site is funded by Meat & Livestock Australia.

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