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Rangelands

Heytesbury Cattle Co. manages 2.5 million hectares of rangeland in the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory and Eastern Kimberley district of Western Australia. Our land asset the single most valuable component of our cattle enterprise and we have a responsibility to maintain its natural values in perpetuity. Our Rangeland Manager, in conjunction with Station Managers, actively addresses threats and implement solutions to manage our land responsibly.

Weeds Management
Introduced plants are a serious and demanding land management issue faced by pastoralists in the “Top End”. Heytesbury actively pursues the eradication of Class A/P2 weeds such as Prickly Acacia, Mesquite, Baleria across all Stations in line with the legislative requirements. Additional introduced plants requiring localised eradication have been identified and are undergoing treatment. Innovative weed control methods are in use, including aerial spraying and the new Parkinsonia Biological control; the UU Moth.

Pest Animal Management
Heytesbury Cattle Co. employs proactive and pragmatic approaches to addressing the problems resulting from introduced animal species on our country. The most significant pest animal issue currently faced by pastoralists in the Northern Rangelands are excessive populations of wild dogs which prey on native wildlife and attack stock.  The threat is mitigated through an integrated control program of strategic ground baiting, aerial baiting and trapping. Our Managers participate in broader district wide control programs in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Stocking and Pasture Management
We manage our pasture resources for long-term sustainability, primarily through a policy of conservative stocking rates (by industry standards). By maintaining moderate herd numbers, Heytesbury Cattle Co. is able to better withstand fluctuations between seasons and unexpected climatic conditions without placing excessive pressure on our pastures and degrading our land asset. In recent times, a system of rotational spelling has been implemented to allow productive pastures a chance to regenerate.

Fire
Fire is a natural and fundamental element to the Northern Australian eco-system. The absence of fire from much of the productive country in the Victoria River District is thought to have contributed to the process of woody thickening by which many of the areas of natural grassland are now being invaded by scrub. To combat this we have initiated a program of spelling and burning incorporating the best practice recommendation from DPIF’s Kidman Springs “Shruburn” trials. Under this system areas affected by woody thickening will be spelled and burnt on a four yearly rotational basis followed by a further wet-season spell to let pastures recover.

Erosion
Erosion is a serious issue in the Northern Rangeland, especially in the Victoria River District where the high volumes of water experienced in the northern wet-season combine with the rugged topography to produce serious disturbances to soil if not properly managed. To help combat this process, all Station Managers and machinery operators participate in formal soil conservation training to learn the principles of hydrology and erosion mitigation engineering. Both of the major rivers on the VRD lease (the Victoria and Wickham) are fenced so as to exclude stock and arrest the erosion of these rivers that has taken place historically.