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New leader sows his grassland agenda for southern livestock producers

by Sheep Central, 11 September 2017

New GSSA president Steve Cotton.

NEW Grassland Society of Southern Australia president, Hamilton livestock consultant Steve Cotton, says farmers should consider themselves first and foremost as grass growers.

“Whether they’re sheep, beef or dairy farmers, it’s the pasture system that drives production and live weight gains in animals,” Dr Cotton said.

“It’s all about getting soil fertility right, growing the grass and then getting good utilisation of that grass.”

Dr Cotton believes the Grassland Society has a significant role to play in helping farmers to achieve success. He replaces South Australia’s Nick McBride as GSSA president.

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The society has about 540 members with branches in Albury-Wodonga, Central Ranges, Central West, Gippsland, East Gippsland, and Western District in Victoria, Limestone Coast in South Australia, and Tasmania.

As president, Dr Cotton hoped to increase the society’s membership, reinvigorate the Gippsland and Central West branches, improve collaboration with like-minded agencies and organisations and become involved in more research.

“The society provides relevant and robust information suited to people who are keen to grow grass,” he said.

“Other societies have a crop focus; we’re the only society that is grass-focused.”

Dr Cotton hoped to see GSSA membership grow to 700.

“We will have be driving for more numbers and will conduct a survey to see what current members want,” he said.

The society’s central committee will focus more on strategic issues while giving branches more freedom to drive local activities, he said.

The society will continue to organise regular Pasture Updates for the MLA and Dr Cotton hopes to broaden its sponsorship base.

He also hoped to promote greater collaboration with other similar organisations and researchers.

“I’d like to see more collaboration with other agencies and organisations in the field.

“We could look at joint field days and conferences and ideally the society will get involved in any relevant research work that’s happening,” Dr Cotton said.

Dr Cotton has had a long interest in pasture utilisation and achieving maximum livestock performance. He joined the society and became president of the Western District branch in 2012 and later joined the central committee. He was elected at the Grassland Society of Southern Australia’s annual general meeting at Nagambie on September 6-7.

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