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NT couple rewarded for regenerative cell grazing

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article image Chris and Marie Muldoon rewarded for regenerative cell grazing

Chris and Marie Muldoon’s interest in cell grazing was triggered years before moving to Midway Station in the Northern Territory, where they finally had the opportunity to implement the practice.

Their interest in cell grazing and sustainable production was what led to this innovative couple winning the inaugural National farmers Federation (NFF) Innovation in Agriculture Award for Sustainability, presented recently in Brisbane.

The Muldoon’s have a passionate belief in their land and their ability to work it sustainably in order to achieve longevity for future generations.

“It’s good to be able to get our message across to other graziers and also the general community that as producers, we are striving to do things in a sustainable manner,” Chris explained.

Chris’s interest in cell grazing peaked when they arrived at Midway Station in the Douglas Daly District because of the land’s suitability to the concept. The property was overgrazed, had a weed problem (common in tropical pastures) and its tired pastures were in need of nurturing. Chris felt the property was an ideal candidate for cell grazing.

In 2005, Chris heard about the Applied Grazing Course being held by RCS in his area and since attending and gaining insight into the fundamentals of cell grazing practice, has never looked back.

“The course gave us the basic principles to work from and since then we have manipulated cell grazing to suit our environment at Midway with encouraging results,” Chris said.

In four short years, the Muldoon’s have managed to turn their 3000 hectare property into healthy and productive land, making them an obvious choice for the NFF Innovation in Agriculture Sustainability Award.

Both emotionally and financially, their efforts have proven highly valuable. The system has rewarded them with a drop in herbicide usage of more than 70% and a total elimination of fertiliser, resulting in an annual saving of $133,000.

All of the improved pasture (1500ha) at Midway Station has been broken up into 30 to 50 hectare paddocks, each divided by solar-powered electric fences. During the growing season, the mob of 2,000–3,000 cattle is moved to a new paddock each day, giving the pasture a rest period of about 30 days. The result for the Muldoon’s is lush pasture and an ability to increase their stocking rate by more than 50%.

The combination of these improvements has seen a massive shift in profitability for Midway Station. This change in farming practice has also allowed the Muldoon’s to reduce their carbon footprint by significantly reducing their farming inputs.

The NFF and Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) established the national awards to recognise and encourage the pursuit of excellence through innovative farming practices.

“We are thrilled to receive the award and recognition for the work we have put into a sustainable system for this land,” Marie said. “We want to encourage others to investigate cell grazing systems because if properly applied, it is possible to make the same exciting improvements that we have.”          

Chris and Marie are hoping to further their knowledge and continue to advance their productivity by attending an Resource Consulting Services Grazing for Profit school. As supporters of cell grazing, the Muldoon’s encourage others in the industry to follow suit, where appropriate, by participating in field days and by hosting cell grazing events. Chris recently hosted a Grazing for Profit Field trip which showcased the techniques employed at Midway Station.
 
“Through sharing these sustainable cell grazing practices, we hope that others will begin to improve their land,” Chris said, “because ultimately, we are all aiming for long-term viable grazing.”

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