Central Queensland cattleman and farmer Kurt Mayne can't stop smiling.
After a crippling case of pasture dieback, the unseasonal rain events at his Rolleston property have brought new life to his pasture.
"I've never seen anything like it," he said.
Scientists have yet to determine exactly what causes dieback. One possible strategy to dealing with the condition might be the 'Mayne' approach to handling marginal grazing country.
Mr Mayne owns and operates Broken Hills, a 8093 hectare property where he runs up to 2000 trade steers over 5260ha and farms the remainder, growing mung beans, chickpeas, wheat and barley.
Two years ago, Mr Mayne and associate Brendan King formed CQ Ag Earthworks, which runs a bulldozer, deep ripper, fertiliser and seeder to offer a more economical way to prepare and treat land in one go.
The pair operate a Komatsu 337kW D275AX-5EO bulldozer, which they say outperforms the most efficient broadacre tractor- if operated to conditions.
"The target speed is up to 50 per cent greater than that averaged by conventional tractors and bulldozer competitors, enabling a fuel saving alone of better than 20 per cent," said Mr Mayne.
Their unit utilises a purpose-built hydraulic system from the bulldozer that drives the air seeder towed behind the bulldozer and ripper. It's capable of spreading eight tonnes of seed and fertiliser at any desired rate per hectare.
The maiden run was in the Mayne's cropping country, ripping down to 450mm. Having lost a significant amount of his property to pasture dieback, Mr Mayne says the recovery, aided by their fertiliser program has been incredible.
"We started in November 2020 with our farming country and moved onto the cattle country by January. We've recovered quite well on the system we created and it's come back to grass after carrying a high stubble load," he said.
"The buffel is coming back a lot thicker after the deep ripping and fertilising."
In his grazing country, Mr Mayne has allowed for 250kg/ha of MOP- a Phosphorus and Potassium mix, ultimately for the benefit of his Leucaena.
Taking inspiration from his father- a pioneer of Leucaena in the area and southern crop farmers, Mr Mayne wants to maximise production on his property.
"I looked around the high production areas around Armidale and ask if they fertilise- 'yeah mate, about two to three times a year'. I've got this beautiful, deep black soil and realised I could do a lot more with it," said Mr Mayne.
"Our big opportunity is to restore grazing land. Cattle are eating the goodness out of the land and like farmland after cropping, it's important to rejuvenate grazing land too. When we started, people down south thought it strange that we were tilling and fertilising so deep, but now they're not only understanding but starting to follow us!"
He's deep fertilising phosphorus into his farming country and maintains a high level of trace elements in the soil, meaning moisture retention is at a maximum.
Determined not to stress the Leucaena, only every second row is deep ripped, with plans to treat the others after this season.
"I want to hold for a little while and make sure what we're doing is correct. So far it's been all 'have a go' without any data," he said.
"The best thing I've inherited in life is a block with Leucaena. My Dad has been nuts on it for 30 years and hands down no one has planted more. Now he's got a third of what I do on his block at Calliope and he'll be doing the same as me this year. He's amazing!"
The Maynes run a steer backgrounding operation, turning over up to 2000 head annually. With two optiweigh machines in the paddock, Mr Mayne says they make his life a living dream, taking the guess work out of management decisions and leaving him more time to concentrate on his crops and his earthworks business.
"We're pretty much booked out for the next 12 months and we've had to turn some work away," Mr Mayne said.
"We set out to keep things simple, but it looks like we may have to investigate a second machine."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.