Why is monitoring land condition important?

Grazing land condition is important because it directly influences the efficiency of ecosystem functioning. It is comprised of three key components:

  • Pasture condition: the capacity of the pasture to capture solar energy and convert it into palatable green leaf, to use rainfall efficiently, to conserve soil condition and to cycle nutrients.
  • Soil condition: the capacity of the soil to absorb and store rainfall, to store and cycle nutrients, to provide a habitat for seed germination and plant growth and to resist erosion.
  • Woodland condition: the capacity of the woodland to grow pasture, to cycle nutrients, and to regulate ground water.

The state of these three components, and thus overall land condition, are generally slow to change and influenced by repeated management over an extended period of time. Grazing land condition is an indicator of long-term safe carrying capacity.

Land condition, pasture condition and forage condition are terms often confused. They are three quite different, but interrelated things.

Land condition Pasture condition Forage condition
What changes?
  • Pasture condition
  • Soil condition
  • Woodland condition
  • Presence of 3P grasses
  • Crown cover and health of 3P grasses
  • Species diversity
  • Weed infestation
  • Pasture quantity
  • Pasture quality (proportion of green, stage of maturity)
Affected by? Long-term paddock management Long-term paddock management Weather, seasonal conditions, paddock management, pasture condition
Rate of change Slow Slow Quick (season or even overnight)
Significance Overall health of the land, ecosystem function, biodiversity and long-term carrying capacity Part of land condition, potential growth response of pasture after rain, long-term carrying capacity Forage budgeting for stock, animal performance (LWG) and short-term carrying capacity