P payback for northern beef production

Northern beef Lick shed Kidston

A wide-ranging economic benchmark for supplementing phosphorus (P) to northern beef shows it finishes well in the black.

Researchers modelled the payback for supplementing P over 30 years. They looked at two dissimilar regions across 12 different season likelihoods, based on experimental data and expert opinion of persons with extensive experience of the industry

In the Katherine region of NT, year-round P supplementation of the entire cattle herd (7400 adult equivalents grazing acutely P-deficient pasture), delivered an increase in annual business profit of $500,000. Supplementing with P and nitrogen (N) only in the dry season increased annual business profit by $200,000.

Meanwhile, in the Fitzroy NRM region, P supplementation by breeders grazing deficient or acutely P-deficient pastures year-round increased profit by between $2400–$45,000/year (total cattle herd 1500 adult equivalents). Importantly, P supplementation during the wet season-only resulted in the greatest increases in profit of up to $45 000 additional profit/year.

Lead researcher Dr Maree Bowen, principal research scientist from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries at Rockhampton, said: “This research indicates large economic benefits of P supplementation. However, there are generally low adoption rates by the cattle industry in northern Australia. This suggests we need to identify the constraints to adoption, including potential high initial capital costs.”

The research was supported by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Queensland Government Drought and Climate Adaptation Program, QAAFI and the NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources.

Source: Animal Production Science 60(5) 683-693