Arrawatta Station today (2023) is comprised of two adjoining properties, essentially separated by the Macintyre River. On the eastern side is Arrawatta itself, the original homestead, with an area of 1306.8ha. On the western side is Coomerang (which was originally part of Arrawatta), with an area of 529.3ha. There are several river crossings which allow the two properties to be operated as one in all but exceptional conditions.
Each property is comprised of about 50% land suitable for cropping/grazing and 50% land suitable for grazing only. The Arrawatta portion has three areas of about 17ha each which can be irrigated by a centre pivot, drawing water from the river under a 452ML license.
Our Cattle are run as a closed herd currently comprised of some 800 breeding females (Angus, Australian Lowline Angus and Native Angus®) and 30 Native Angus® bulls. Our Native Angus® genetics (embryos and semen) were originally imported from Scotland and we import genetics on a regular basis to ensure that we can draw on the best Native Angus® phenotypes for the ongoing development of our herd.
Our Grazing and Grassland Management is based on the principles of regenerative agriculture.
Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services.
It aims to capture carbon in soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation.
At the same time, it offers increased yields, resilience to climate instability, and higher health and vitality for farming and grazing communities.
Cattle grazing a mixed species cover crop in a cropping rotation
These principles and practices aren’t new, of course. Before the industrialisation of the food system, it’s how everyone used to farm.
Moving to fresh grass
Grazing Management based on the principles of Regenerative Agriculture uses the livestock as a tool -
smaller paddocks are heavily stocked for short periods, promoting pasture revitalization, removal of unwanted species and prevention of over grazing
longer rest periods are planned to allow adequate plant regrowth
the cattle excrement helps the mineralization process
the cattle hoofs trample unwanted grasses and weeds and break the soil surface to allow enhanced water infiltration
I'm doing my best boss, but this grass is out of control.
Grassland Management based on the principles of Regenerative Agriculture aims to increase soil organic matter, water retention and biodiversity above and below the ground.
Soil texture and organic matter are the key components that determine soil water holding capacity and thus maximum possible water retention.
In terms of soil texture, those made up of smaller particle sizes, such as in the case of silt and clay, have larger surface area. The larger the surface area the easier it is for the soil to hold onto water so it has a higher water holding capacity.
The black and red basalt soils at Arrawatta are clay soils and are ideal for providing high soil water holding capacity. We can maximize this by increasing soil organic matter and by utilizing the farm topography to best effect.
Our approach to increasing soil organic matter includes the following -
cover crops/green manure crops.
zero or reduced tillage.
perennial forage crops
In order to improve water retention, we are also engaged in employing Natural Sequence Farming. Natural Sequence Farming is a landscape technique that concentrates on water and nutrient movement from the hilltops to the lowest floodplain points in order to restore, rehydrate, and ultimately rehabilitate the landscape through natural processes. Health and fertility of the landscape can be enhanced considerably by slowing down water flow, particularly after rain, through a series of natural obstructions. We plan to implement this technique across the entire farm over a period of time.
Biodiverse pastures offer greater nutritional value through increased mineral, protein and phosphorous levels which can reduce the need for supplements and enhance animal performance. Our Grassland Management program involves planting multiple species of grasses, legumes and plants in order to assist in increasing the animals' health, welfare and overall performance.