Terry McCosker is the father of cell grazing in Australia but there’s a lot more to the modest Queensland educator than spelling pastures.
Story By Jane Milburn
“Anything is possible when attitudes are changed.” Agribusiness leader Terry McCosker is talking about grazing, but he might just as well be talking about his life. The 57-year-old educator from Yeppoon, near Rockhampton in Queensland, is best known as the father of cell grazing but he is now forging a role as a pioneer in carbon trading.
“I don’t think many have the privilege of being able to positively influence on a large scale how others do things, but I often get calls from people who are applying the principles they learned from us and changing their lives for the better,” Terry says. “The change I see in people gives me my greatest buzz. It is their feedback that gives me energy to continue helping people.”
More than 4500 leading producers from around Australia have been through Terry’s Grazing for Profit (GFP) courses and other programs run by his Resource Consulting Services. “Some people think GFP is about cell grazing, but it is much more than that,” he says. “Its primary purpose is to begin the process of change by giving people an educational and motivational experience that they have never had before.”
It was back in the 1950s and ’60s, growing up on a mixed farm at Proston in south-east Queensland, that Terry’s attachment to the land was fostered by his mother. His father saw no future in it and told Terry to get an education and become a farm advisor instead. But at 17, he joined the Department of Primary Industries and has been on the same path in various guises for the past 40 years. After a decade in the department and another decade running the largest privately funded research project in the northern beef industry at Mt Bundey Station in the Northern Territory, Terry had learned how to synthesise information from many sources and develop it into practical, profitable outcomes. Then in 1989, inspired by the work of Zimbabwean scientist Dr Stan Parsons, he launched the GFP school, which included the concept of cell grazing, also known as time-control grazing, which involves rotational grazing and rest for pasture. It was dismissed by departmental scientists at the time. “Now, 18 years later, everyone knows that rotational grazing and spelling pastures maximises productivity but then it was quite controversial,” Terry says.
This story excerpt is from Issue #59
Outback Magazine: June/July 2008