ABOUT ROSS WATSON

PASTURE IMPROVEMENT SPECIALISTS

Ross Watson Agriculture P/L is one of Australia’s leading independent providers of pasture agronomy advice.

Our point of difference is our extensive and independent technical agronomy knowledge, combined with our extensive “hands-on” field experience with all facets of pasture agronomy and management . We do “walk the talk” every day. We have over 30 years experience in agronomy consulting, which include all facets of pasture improvement. From paddock preparation, pasture establishment techniques such as conventional seedbeds, direct drilling and aerial spray-sow pastures, to pasture species selection,  soil nutrient and fertility management, fertiliser selection and programs, weed control, and grazing management.

We are the recognised specialists in pasture establishment, management and development programs. We are often engaged to help clients, both small and large, beef cattle, thoroughbred horses, dairy farms and mixed crop and livestock operations to develop detailed farm development programs which are appropriate for the various agricultural land classes throughout every farm.

Over the last 20 years Ross Watson Agriculture has been become recognised within the Australian Thoroughbred Industry as the leading equine pasture agronomist, consulting to all the major thoroughbred studs and being the agronomist responsible for the pasture redevelopment on many of the leading established studs as well as being engaged to design and implement the pasture and farm development of many new stud farms throughout Australia.

We pride ourselves on providing personalised, one on one, pasture agronomy advice to a full range of clients, such as lifestyle properties, broadacre primary producers, as well as large corporate clients throughout Australia as well as internationally. Key client service areas include, the Hunter Region, Northern, Central and Southern Tablelands and Slopes regions of NSW. We have been engaged to provide pasture agronomy advice for specific clients in Victoria , South Australia, King Island and South East Queensland.

We also consult to various government agencies, industry groups, farmer interest groups and corporate agribusinesses. We have also been regularly engaged to undertake independent research and development work in pasture species evaluation, fertiliser product evaluation and the development and evaluation of herbicide products for some of the Australia’s leading agribusiness’.

Our other services include, property assessment, farm planning, farm budgeting and benchmarking, legal support and expert opinions, research and development of agricultural products, working with government agencies on agricultural and land management issues.

We can also provide you with the full range of farm contracting services to establish and maintain your pastures.

We do “walk the talk” everyday !

Career Background.

Ross Watson commenced his agronomy consulting career in 1980, when his was appointed as the District Agronomist with NSW Agriculture at Scone , in the Upper Hunter Region of NSW. He quickly became recognised and respected by famers and the ag-industry for his knowledge and advisory skills in many areas of pasture and forage crop agronomy , farm development programs and  pasture / woody weed control. He excelled in his work developing new pasture establishment methods such as aerial-spray sow and direct drill pasture improvement programs. He authored many leading and popular extension and advisory publications, on pastures, fertiliser and weed control, while in the position as District Agronomist at Scone, many of which are still referenced and used today. In his service at Scone , Ross was the longest serving Agronomist ever to occupy that position , (which still stands), with 16 years of exceptional service until 1996. There is not many farms that he has not been on in the Upper Hunter. He loved his time in that position and had established a strong following within the farming community in this Region as well as central and Northern NSW.

In 1996 he formed Ross Watson Agriculture to service clients in the Upper Hunter as well as other areas of  NSW and Interstate. This was the first agronomy consulting business of its type in the Region at the time. Ross Watson Agriculture is a long standing and respected agronomy consulting business today.

Today he continues to offer that experienced, professional and independent pasture agronomy advice that producers have come to trust and admire.

He has always been “a leader in his field” and his company continues to deliver this level of service to his clients !

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26 minutes ago

Ross Watson Agriculture

This drought 2017-2019 is certainly the driest 24-30 month drought period in over 120 years of climate records. It is certainly very challenging times for everyone now. This drought is NOT the First, WON`T be the last and unfortunately just wants to keep going ! Droughts are part of our climate, they have been for hundreds and many thousands of years and will continue to be part of our climate cycles.
This is a clip from recent seminar talk Ross presented to Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders staff where we discussed our Climate, this current Drought and its implications for Pastures and Horse Farm operations. We hope you find it interesing and watch the full video on Youtube at youtu.be/5xEfuj10rtw
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Drought tolerant subtropical pasture grasses are a MUST in our pasture systems! We have been using and recommending them for over 30 years. There are many excellent pastures 20 to 30 years old now and still good density despite several drought periods over this time.
The following pictures are of a new pasture we undertook last summer, under dryland conditions in this drought. Good fallow program is pivotal to this program.
Conditions were extremely hot and dry during it’s establishment.
We decided to sow in mid Dec 2018 after a 25 mm of rain on our sprayed fallow. The seedlings all germinated on seedbed moisture in 7 days. Then received another rain event of 35 mm in late Dec 2018 and then it went very dry and hot. In Jan 2019, only 28 mm and many days over 42C, Feb only 25 mm and many days over 38C. March a series of light showers, and a lucky heavy fall of 80 mm at the end of March and many days over 36C. Nothing in April, and only 18 mm in May 2019. Thought we might lose it, but it demonstrated it’s outstanding heat and drought tolerance from Jan to March 2019. Then it got the 100 mm in late March and took off. Pregnant heifers were placed on it in mid May. Such a valuable paddock in this drought!
This clearly shows what can be achieved by following our agronomy plans and the value of these summer active pastures. There are lessons here for all working through this drought!
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Benn and I attended today, the Heritage Seeds Northern Roadshow at Tamworth , "Powering Productivity and Profit" . Over 70 agronomists and producers attended the seminar.
A very good line up of speakers, that discussed several key aspects of pasture production , fertiliser use, sub tropical pastures and the key role pastures play in the multi-million Australian livestock industry. One of the novel presentations was by Nic Kentish from RCS, who highlighted the massive contribution that grassland , which account for over 30% of the earths land surface. Pastures throughout the world play a vital role in managing the worlds Carbon balance and how we could easily clean up the added carbon going into the atmosphere by only a small increase in our pasture systems throughout the world. Pastures and grasslands play a vital and underrated role in the health of the environment on earth. We are doing an important job growing pastures !!
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Preservation of groundcover is critical in our pasture systems all the time but especially in droughts. Groundcover is your "best friend" in a drought. If you mistreat it, there will be serious implications and hard to get back again , like a friendship.
I see many examples, where groundcover in this drought has been significantly reduced or even totally removed by overgrazing and constant stocking.There is a major cost to the farm and environment for this loss of groundcover which can have ongoing effects for many years. The total cost of this is action is often greater than the gain here.
The following charts I have prepared , from field research undertaken by Des Lang, former Soils Research officer with then Soil Conservation Service near Scone back in the 1980s when I was District Agronomist at Scone, is one of those "gems" of simple research, I have promoted to landholders for many years.
This work showed that you can easily loses 100-150 tonnes/ha of soil in low groundcover paddocks. Realise that 1 mm of soil over 1 ha is equal to 10 tonnes of soil. This soil loss can not be replaced readily. Soil formation is around 0.2-1.5 t/ha/annum, much lower than soil loss.
This research showed that landholders must aim to maintain at least 70% groundcover for soil protection and limiting rainfall runoff. The higher the rainfall zone or the higher the land slope then you should aim for 80-90% groundcover . On lower slope/flat land, or lower rainfall zones then 60-70 % is an acceptable minimum. BUT more is always better anywhere and anytime.
90% of these rainfall and soil losses occur with often less than 10% of rain events. Its those intense sharp storms or rain events that do the damage, which have a much higher probability of occurring from now through to say March that will be of concern for current drought affected paddocks.
The research showed that once groundcover dropped below the 70% groundcover level, the amount of soil loss and rainfall runoff just accelerated to very high levels.

Once the groundcover level get below 70%, the bare ground content starts to join up and water runoff and soil movement can build, join up and become a major events and losses occur. Having groundcover of more than 70% provides more traps to collect runoff and sediment movement.
Pasture and groundcover loss to low levels, largely through overgrazing, will result in poor harvesting and infiltration of rainfall during this drought phase or when it starts to break properly, limiting the water stored in the soil to allow full pasture recovery. This work showed that low groundcover paddocks allowed the equivalent of over 200 mm/pa of our rainfall , about 30% of Scone`s annual rainfall to runoff . Yes some runoff could go into water storages but it will have taken a lot of soil, silt , manure and debris with it , resulting in poor water quality in dams and creeks. The bigger effect is that loss of 200 mm of rainfall , means the drought continues , despite rainfall !!!.
These paddocks may take a very long time to recover and will extend your drought phase and drought pain.
Bare and overgrazed paddocks may need some remedial soil treatment or pasture oversowing program , better land management and some healing time , to help their recovery to productivity again.
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Tonight, Benn had our JD & Kiser Dragmaster out as our sponsorship contribution, professionally preparing the arena surface for the Australian Reined Cow Horse Associations ARCHA Pot of Gold Show at the new Scone Equine Centre at White Park this weekend.
If you want to see some real cow horse action this weekend, come down and support this weekend event in Scone! Get a group together, & come prepared for cold weather forecast. Beer garden, food stall, trade displays, kids fun area. Starts with Cutting at 1pm Saturday followed by evening entertainment of the feature Open and Non Pro Cow Horse event 6pm Saturday and more action from 7am Sunday!
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