The farming wizards of Oz

The farming wizards of Oz


Agribusiness
Listening to well-known and outspoken farmer Peter Andrews was one of the hghlights of the trip for many.

Listening to well-known and outspoken farmer Peter Andrews was one of the hghlights of the trip for many.

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IT WAS a trip not to miss out on, a first hand account of some of the most influential and controversial farmers in Australia.

Aa

IT WAS a trip not to miss out on, a first hand account of some of the most influential and controversial farmers in Australia.

The Benalla Landcare group teamed up with the local Bestwool Soil Health group from the north east of the state to visit grazing management expert David Marsh, pasture cropping pioneer Colin Seis and revolutionary farmer Peter Andrews.

Bestwool co-ordinator Norm Tozer said farmers enjoyed hearing the views and seeing the properties of all three influential farmers and have taken plenty of ideas back to their own operations.

“We have been forced to look at the way we use the rain that falls, in Euroa the traditional annual average rainfall has been about 700mm per year, over the last 10 years that figure has been closer to 500mm and over the last three years averaging just 400mm.”

It is for this reason that farmers are looking to produce more dry matter with the rain that falls.

The diverse and hardy native and improved pasture varieties found on David Marsh’s property at Boorowa, NSW showed what can be achieved with different management of novel pastures.

“His use of phalaris, natives and Lucerne all together was very interesting, as was his longer resting regime for cell grazing,” Mr Tozer added.

The theme of great dry matter production was followed at the Gulgong, NSW property of pasture cropping expert Colin Seis.

“I think a few of the farmers around the north east are really giving this a go now as a way of improving productivity without a large increase in costs. We need more reliable ways of producing dry matter and pasture cropping of triticale and increasingly oats may be a bigger part of farming in the north east and adding biological activators such as compost teas through his air seeder was of real interest for farmers,” Mr Tozer added.

A member of the Bestwool Bestlamb Soil Health group Stuart Belcher said he hoped pasture cropping of oats would increase the options on his farm this year and the trip to Mr Seis’ property gave him plenty of food for thought.

Peter Andrews property north east of Mudgee was the next stop.

The farmer famous for “Natural Sequence Farming” through the concept of slowing down the flow of water any way possible also left an impression on the farmers on the trip.

“He showed us very healthy and diverse pastures on his property and explained his concept that any ground cover is better than none, even if this involved what some would call green weeds,” Mr Tozer said.

“I don’t think I have ever met someone who can read the landscape like he can, he was very interesting, even if not everyone on the trip agreed with him,” he added.

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