Case Study: Growing Pasture in the Riverina, NSW

Riverina farmer, Andrew Forrest, has transformed a tired farm into a highly productive property yielding as well as any in the district after adopting a minimum till biological farming system. Andrew, his wife, Sue, and his sister and brother -in-law, Kate and Kevin Hall, grow 800 hectares of wheat, barley, canola and field peas and 100 ha of oats for grazing and hay on adjoining properties, “Columbia Park” and “New Park” at Corobimilla, 20 kilometres south-west of Narrandera. A fifth generation farmer, Andrew grew up on his parents’ property near Corowa. The two couples bought “Columbia Park” in 1994 and then “New Park” seven years later, reuniting what was once a single farm. The soils on “Columbia Park” were worse for wear after many years of continuous conventional cropping. “The soil was powdery with no structure and would blow, wash and crust pretty easily, which is not uncommon in these …

Case Study: Growing Pasture in Victoria

The adoption of biological farming techniques six years ago has allowed Victorian chaff producers, Jeff and Gae Dalton, to grow top quality lucerne on a block that had previously repulsed their best efforts to establish the crop. The Daltons mill and bag their own chaff from lucerne grown on 100 hectares of irrigated land which they own, lease or share-farm near Swan Hill on the Murray River. Their business, Kiambra Stock Feeds, markets a range of premium quality bagged lucerne, oats and molasses chaff in produce stores in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The chaff is favoured by racehorse owners and trainers and is supplied to horses at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The Dalton family has been on the 53 ha home block for half a century but when Jeff took it over 25 years ago it was, in his words, “waterlogged paspalum, rushes, couch grass, boulders and snakes”. Jeff …

Case Study: Broadacre Cropping in Dunkeld, Vic

A biological soil nutrition program is enabling Victorian farmers, Gavin and Vikki Bensch, to shrug off the effects of the drought and produce some of the best clover hay they have ever grown. Gavin and Vikki grow about 180 hectares of clover hay, wheat, linseed, field peas and oats on their 350 ha property, “Kengurra”, near Dunkeld in the Western District. They also run 1,500 superfine Merino ewes, some of which are joined to Poll Dorset and Southdown rams for prime lamb production, and a small Angus beef herd. A fourth-generation farmer in the region, Gavin has long been concerned about the ongoing effects of acid fertilisers and the use of crop protection products on the health of his soils. “I am no longer comfortable about using a lot of conventional fertilisers and pesticides,” he said. “I’m more interested in getting production out of the soil naturally rather than forcing …

Case Study: Growing Wheat and Oats, Inverell, NSW

Northern NSW farmers, Geoff and Kaye Bassett, have defied the drought to produce an amazing 500 kilograms of beef per hectare on their dual-purpose wheat and oat crops. The key to their success is a revolutionary biological farming program which they claim has dramatically improved their soil structure and, as a direct result, plant vigour and animal health. The Bassetts run 300 Limousin cows and grow bought-in steers for the feedlot trade on their 1,800 hectare Inverell-district property, “Pindaroi Station”, which usually receives an average of 800 mm of summer-dominant rain a year. Yearlings are run on a mix of winter and summer fodder crops, including oats, wheat, lab lab, cow peas and lucerne, sown into 800 ha of arable basalt soils, while the breeding herd grazes semi-improved pastures. The Bassetts began an intensive fertiliser and pasture improvement program in their grazing country about 25 years ago, applying 125 kg/ha …

Case Study: Wool and Grain, NSW

Southern NSW wool and grain growers, Alan and Ruth Wragge, have dramatically improved the health, yield and quality of their crops since they adopted biological farming techniques six years ago. The Wragges grow up to 600 hectares of oats, wheat, barley and rice on their 3,000 ha Deniliquin district property, “Yaloke”. They also run 3,000 medium wool Merino ewes and small numbers of store cattle. A fifth-generation farmer, Alan saw long-term problems developing with the continued use of conventional farming techniques. The heavy red clay to sandy loam soils were becoming compacted, his use of crop protection products was increasing, resistance was developing and animal health was deteriorating. The turning point came when a canola crop, which was shaping up to be his best ever, began to turn yellow. His agronomist diagnosed manganese toxicity and recommended ploughing the crop into the ground. Instead, Alan contacted Ivan Mitchell, a local agent …

BioAg Case Study: Broadacre Cropping and Pasture, NSW

Riverina grain grower, Wayne Hamblin, is earning handy premiums by meeting the growing demand for high energy, chemical-free grain from organic dairy farmers. Together with wife, Kim, and son, Chad, Wayne conducts a mixed cropping and livestock operation on “Big Tree”, Matong, about 70 km north-west of Wagga Wagga. The 1,600 hectare property has been in family hands for more than 100 years. The Hamblins grow about 640 hectares of wheat, oats, barley, vetch and clover under a three to five year cropping program followed by a three-year pasture phase. “Big Tree” is also home to 1,800 first-cross Dorper ewes, which are joined to Dorper rams for prime lamb production, and 30 Santa Gertrudis cross and Brangus cows, which are joined to Angus bulls to produce vealers. About six years ago, Wayne became concerned that he was mining the soil and leaving little for future generations. “The ground had become …