Godolphin in the Agricultural Zones of Australia

By , November 18, 2009 1:18 am

Godolphin is located in the Central Tablelands of NSW and that in turn is in the High Rainfall Zone of Agricultural Production. What what does this mean?

Traditionally the continent has been divided into three zones based on the annual rainfall or the ability to run sheep or produce crops, especially wheat. This classification ignores the northern tropical areas of Australia.The zones are also related to the geological origin of the country. Livestock and grain productivity are expressed in units per hectare. For livestock, the unit is measured in “Dry Sheep Equivalents” (DSE; called carrying capacity) and for cropping it is Kg of grain (or oilseed) /hectare. A DSE refers to the feed requirements of an  adult castrate  Merino sheep (i.e a wether). In the 1960’s this was considered to be a 40 Kg animal.  Perhaps 50 Kg is more typical these days. In the subtropics and tropical areas where the only livestock are cattle and the properties sizes measured in square kilometers carrying capacities are measure in square kilometers per beast

The characteristics of the three zones are described below.

(1) In The High Rainfall Zone annual rainfall is typically above about about 600 mm and falls increasingly  in the winter as one moves from north to south. It is located mainly around the  eastern-southern edges and  south-west corner  of the continent extending inland usually less than 300 kilometres  depending on the state. It is mostly too hilly for broadacre cropping but ideal for grazing enterprises. It is the smallest in area of the three zones but the most productive. Properties are also invariably smaller here than the popular  images of the massive Australian sheep/cattle  “stations” portrayed by the media, but they are also more productive. The main enterprises are grazing sheep and cattle  for meat. Wool is a bonus  and is more of a  by-product to the meat, as fewer purebred wool bearing Merinos are used. Instead they are traditionally  crossed with coarser wooled British breeds. Productivity is improved by the use of introduced pastures and application of 1 hundredweight / acre ( approximalty 125 Kg per ha of super phosphate per hectare (equivalent to about 11 Kg of Phosphorous).

At Godolphin a program of pasture improvement by planting introduced grasses and legumes begun in the 1920s  reached its zenith in the 1960s. Soils are often well mineralised (except for phosphorous as with all Australian soils) reflecting their volcanic, mountainous origin. With the increased use of fertilisers a deficiency of selenium in bloodtests of sheep and cattle has become apparent in recent decades.

(2) The wheat-sheep zone is a slightly wider band of country located between  the High Rainfall and the third zone. The rainfall is typically 250 -600 mm. Producers use pure Merinos for wool but mate their Merino ewes to British breed rams and sell the female progeny as dams to be sold to  producers in the High Rainfall Zone. The terrain in this zone is flat and suits broadacre cropping. Rainfall is usually adequate for broad acre cropping and so most of the nation’s cereal crops come from here. The properties are on average perhaps twice the area of the high rainfall zone but production per hectare is usually much less due to the lower rainfall. Soils are formed from sediments of volcanic origin and often excellent for cropping.

(3) The pastoral zone is the third zone and far the largest of the three but it is also the least productive. Average annually rainfall is less than 250 mm. The sometimes massive properties in this region are the stereotypes of the  movies and overseas imagination. No cropping is done here and they are run mainly for wool or these days tourism. Soils are older and more fragile  than in the other two areas and are more often deficient in a number of trace elements such as copper. One speaks of the number of  hectares (or square miles) needed to run one DSE rather than the number of DSE/ha.

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy