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Potential carrying capacity

Potential carrying capacity (PCC) is the estimated number of livestock equivalents that can be carried annually over the long-term on a lease while maintaining or improving rangeland condition.

PCC Review

In 2018 Landgate commissioned a review of 237 pastoral leases across sections of the Southern Rangelands, the Kimberley and Pilbara regions.

This data is utilised in our review and determination of the annual rent’s payable for pastoral leases and for use by the Pastoral Lands Board and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

We commissioned a private consulting company, Spektrum, to assess the PCC review component of this process.

Given the variability in range condition, level of development and management of the pastoral leases across the state, the Valuer-General provided the following assumptions for the recalculation of the PCC:

  • All land systems are in good rangeland condition.
  • The PCC assessment is the average PCC across the full range of seasons.
  • The leases are fully developed with 100% access to water.
  • Areas that are physically inaccessible are removed from assessment.
  • Good grazing management has been practiced on all the leases.
  • Introduced pastures species (e.g. buffel) are included in assessment.
  • There are no feral herbivores.
  • No supplementation is used by the lessees.
  • All Reserves, Unreserved Crown land and stock routes are excluded.

The PCC was defined by Landgate as:

The estimated number of livestock equivalents that can be carried annually over the long-term on a lease, while maintaining or improving rangeland condition. It assumes that all pasture types are in good rangeland condition (that is the potential for producing palatable pasture hasn’t been reduced), the area is fully developed (particularly with respect to water point distribution and placement) and available to livestock, all feral herbivores are under control, and good grazing management is practiced. The estimate is the average carrying capacity across the full range of seasonal conditions. The determination of PCC involves an understanding of each land unit’s ability to support sustained livestock grazing.

PCC Review Methodology

The reassessment of the PCC involved a combination of a technical assessment of the individual land system carrying capacities as well as extensive industry consultation. Both methods allowed for more consideration on site-based information and the local experience. The methodology used to determine new PCC calculations in 2019 involved:

  1. Sourcing the up-to-date land system areas for each lease, ensuring exclusion of stock routes, excisions and reserves from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
  2. Recalculating the potential carrying capacity of each land system within each region using the Grazing Land Management (GLM) methodology. The GLM methodology is an objective, scientifically sound and credible methodology, that has been endorsed by Meat and Livestock Australia, and leading rangeland scientists. This methodology is primarily based on available annual herbage mass assessments, sustainable utilisation rates, and accessibility of the Land Systems by grazing animals.
  3. Consideration of supporting data such as Rangeland survey reports, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development research data, PCC data from the Northern Territory and Queensland, local experience, and additional technical data from research trials.
  4. Consultation with each Lessee to review the accessibility of the land systems, distribution of buffel, impact of burning strategies on palatability of pastures, perceived carrying capacity of land systems, and other factors influencing the PCC of the land systems on the leases.
  5. The project team conducting regional inspections of areas where they required additional information and more on-ground knowledge.
  6. Integration of the information to develop the PCC calculations.

PCC review notable outcomes

Some of the notable outcomes of the PCC assessment included:

  • A significant increase in the distribution and density of buffel was noted, especially in the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions. This increase has contributed to an increase in the PCC.
  • Rotational burning programs in the spinifex country in the Pilbara and Kimberley has significantly increased the carrying capacity and distribution of grazing in these regions.
  • The changes in climatic conditions have driven an increase in PCC in areas such as the Pilbara and West Gascoyne. These areas are receiving increased summer rainfall, which favours summer grass growth, including buffel.

More information

View Spektrum's Potential Carrying Capacity Review Report. Please note data relating to individual stations has been removed to maintain confidentiality.

If you have any further questions regarding the PCC review process, please contact us via email.