Beyond Bluegums land opportunities

Beyond Bluegums land opportunities


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Hotspur lamb producer Phil Gough explains aspects of a Blue Gum paddock, which he has converted back to pasture. Photo: STEVE HYNES

Hotspur lamb producer Phil Gough explains aspects of a Blue Gum paddock, which he has converted back to pasture. Photo: STEVE HYNES

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AS 4000 hectares of former Blue Gum land in the State's west inundates the market, opportunistic farmers attended a workshop that explained how to rehabilitate barren Blue Gum land back to fertile pastures.

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AS 4000 hectares of former Blue Gum land in the State's west inundates the market, opportunistic farmers attended a workshop that explained how to rehabilitate barren Blue Gum land back to fertile pastures.

Hosted by the Grassland Society of Southern Australia's Western District branch, the Beyond Bluegums seminar at Macarthur received an overwhelming response with about 200 people from Western Victoria and South Australia attending.

The latest parcels of land, predominantly in the Balmoral area, were from the failed forestry company Great Southern, which went into administration in 2008 following the demise of the managed investment schemes.

The current owners have divided the land into five parcels ranging from 400 to 1200ha.

Attendee of the event and selling agent, Landmark Harcourts agent Phillip Le Plastrier, said the land would be sold with Blue Gum forest and he expected prospective buyers to harvest the trees and return the land to agriculture.

"It looks like, for the first time, a really exciting future for what is going to happen to the land because we have had 10-15 years of uncertainty with these trees, wouldn't it be lovely to see it all turned back to farming land," he said.

Australian Bluegum Plantations (ABT) Green Triangle silvicultural manager Adrian Marti told seminar attendees the five methods of stump removal which included grinding, stump ripping, stump plucking, cutter-bar and the "old timers" recommendation of leaving then discing in three to five years.

The estimated cost of getting the land back to a state ready to sow was estimated from $300 to $2000/ha, depending on the method.

The increase of Blue Gum land on the market stems from forestry companies moving closer to port as they rid less viable freehold land.

Some companies have also surrendered expensive unviable leases with some of these stump blocks already returned to grazing land.

However, Mr Le Plastrier said land parcels currently for sale were not "fire sales".

"These are commercial sales that won't be targeted at corporates, it will be towards people who live in the area or local farmers looking to expand," he said.

"I'm constantly asked how much these lands will sell for... how can I make a decision on the value of the land? It will be in the eyes of the beholder and how they want to manage the properties.

He said the 4000ha currently on the market was the beginning of a major rationalisation of the industry and expected more in the coming months.

Grassland Society of Southern Australia's Western District branch president Steve Cotton said the group had "started the discussion" with more former plantation land expected to flood the market in the next five years.

"I think there would be a section of the farming community that thinks they would pick up the land fairly cheaply and they would base their investment decision on that," Dr Cotton said.

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