Rangeland condition rating system

Page last updated: Tuesday, 9 July 2019 - 3:42pm

Officers of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) assess rangeland condition to provide advice on planning and managing grazing pressure on leases, and for requirements of the Soil and Land Conservation Act 1945 and the Land Administration Act 1997. Lessees and managers can use information from these assessments to track changes in livestock carrying capacity and resource condition, and improve sustainable rangeland resource use.

Rangeland condition is a function of soil erosion and pasture condition.

DPIRD's rangelands officers use the matrix of soil erosion extent and pasture condition ratings to arrive at the rangeland condition score (good, fair or poor) for each monitoring site or lease inspection point during assessments. Lessees and managers are informed of when rangelands officers will be visiting their lease and they are invited to accompany officers during assessments.

Table 1 Matrix for determining rangeland (resource) condition based on combining scores for extent of soil erosion and pasture condition (adapted from Payne et al. 1998)
Rangeland condition matrix

Pasture condition rating
1 or 2

Pasture condition rating
3

Pasture condition rating
4 or 5

Soil erosion rating
0
Good Fair Poor
Soil erosion rating
1 or 2
Good Fair Poor
Soil erosion rating
3
Fair Poor Poor
Soil erosion rating
4 or 5
Poor Poor Poor
Table 2 Pasture condition rating (adapted from Payne et al. 1979)
# Rating Description
1 Excellent or very good for the land unit/vegetation type, the compositions and cover of shrubs, perennial herbs and grasses is near optimal; free of obvious reductions in palatable species or increases in unpalatable species, or the habitat type supports vegetation which is predominately unattractive to herbivores and is thus largely unaltered by grazing.
2 Good Perennials present include all or most of the palatable species expected; some less palatable or unpalatable species may have increased, but the total perennial cover is not very different from optimal.
3 Fair Moderate losses of palatable perennials and/or increases in unpalatable shrubs or grasses, but most palatable species and stability desirables still present; foliar cover is less than on comparable sites rated 1 or 2 unless unpalatable species have increased.
4 Poor Conspicuous losses of palatable perennials; foliar cover is either decreased through general loss of perennials or is increased by the invasion of unpalatable species.
5 Very poor Few palatable perennials remain; cover is either greatly reduced, with much bare ground arising from loss of stability desirables, or has become dominated by a proliferation of unpalatable species.
Table 3 Soil erosion rating
Rating Severity Percentage of assessment area affected
0 No accelerated erosion present 0%
1 Slight erosion <10%
2 Minor erosion 10–25%
3 Moderate erosion 25–50%
4 Severe erosion 50–75%
5 Extreme erosion 75–100%

Management options

DPIRD's rangelands officers provide advice on management options for maintaining or improving rangeland condition and can help organise group training workshops on sustainable rangeland management and remediation/rehabilitation techniques where resources are available.

References

Payne, AL, Kubicki, A, Wilcox, DG & Short, LC 1979, 'A report on erosion and range condition in the west Kimberley area of Western Australia', Technical bulletin 42, Western Australian Department of Agriculture, viewed 21 November 2016 http://researchlibrary.agric.wa.gov.au/tech_bull/54/.

Payne, AL, Van Vreeswyk, AME, Pringle, HJR, Leighton, KA & Hennig, P 1998, 'An inventory and condition survey of the Sandstone–Yalgoo–Paynes Find area, Western Australia', Technical bulletin 90, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia.

Contact information

Kath Ryan
+61 (0)8 9166 4015
Wayne Fletcher
+61 (0)8 9690 2135
Andrew Watson
+61 (0)8 9368 3282