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Chain Volume 10 Number 1

1800 858 545





For over sixty years Land Rover has backed Australia. From the Snowy to the Kimberley, FNQ to Tassie. Now Land Rover
announces the Defender model line up: five 110’s and three 130’s. From two seats to seven. With all new powertrain, anti
stall, and all new levels of comfort, including air conditioning as standard. So maybe it’s time you put Defender back on
your wish list. With an all new line up and tray back options, the timing couldn’t be better.
Rear tray bodies pictured on 110, 130 Cab Chassis and the 130 Crew Cab Chassis are for illustrative purposes only. These vehicles are supplied as a Cab Chassis, consult your dealer to
supply and install a tray prior to registration.


M&P LR7065

Published by:
3 Beef Industry
9 Cattle, Meat + Livestock
ABN 30 007 224 204
430 William Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
10 Future Farming
Tel: 03 9274 4200 Fax: 03 9329 5295
Email: 12 Cashflow Management
14 Agricultural Chemicals
Ric Navarro 23 Risk Management
26 Best Practice
Advertising Enquiries:
Phil Haratsis 30 Sustainability + Environment
Tel: 03 9274 4200
40 Education + Training
Printed by: Arena Printing Pty Ltd
42 Salinity
Front Cover: Goulburn-Yass Superfine Wool
Breeder John Ive, measuring dam salinity on
his property, Talaheni. Read John’s Dam
45 Farm Machinery + Equipment
Salinity Report Card on page 42.
Photo by Graham Tidy, The Canberra Times. 52 Water
53 Crisis Support
54 Rural Property Market
The editor, publisher, printer and their staff and agents
are not responsible for the accuracy or correctness of
the text of contributions contained in this publication 60 Irrigation
or for the consequences of any use made of the
products, and the information referred to in this
publication. The editor, publisher, printer and their staff 63 Landscapes
and agents expressly disclaim all liability of whatsoever
nature for any consequences arising from any errors
or omissions contained in this publication whether
64 Innovation
caused to a purchaser of this publication or otherwise.
The views expressed in the articles and other material
published herein do not necessarily reflect the views of
66 Research
the editor and publisher or their staff or agents. The
responsibility for the accuracy of information is that of Breeding
the individual contributors and neither the publisher or
editors can accept responsibility for the accuracy of
information which is supplied by others. It is impossible 69 Soils
for the publisher and editors to ensure that the
advertisements and other material herein comply with
the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth). Readers should
70 Crops
make their own inquiries in making any decisions, and
where necessary, seek professional advice. 71 Weeds
© 2009 Executive Media. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or part, without written
permission is strictly prohibited. 72 Wine + Viticulture
Modern spaces

ST HILDA’S SCHOOL created by St Hilda’s
School for interactive
learning and research
INVITATION The Gold Coast’s St Hilda’s
School opened its $5 million
Centre for Scientific Learning
and Research, a ‘green’
designed learning space for
creative teaching.
“Students are no longer
passive in their learning,” said
Head of School, Mr Peter
Crawley. “Active students,
St Hilda’s Head of School invites prospective families to tour creating and nurturing their
the new $5 million Centre for Scientific Learning and Research.
learning, inevitably means real
The centre’s creative design, featuring six teaching laboratories, research is undertaken at school. We needed a building that would
is equipped with the latest information technology and offers allow us the freedom to develop this learning style.”
students an incredible facility for the study of the Sciences. The facility’s six laboratories allow students to engage in long-term
To book your tour, contact the Registrar on 07 5577 7232 experiments. Every lab connects to the internet, has a set of laptop
or email computers and interactive whiteboards that increase student and
St Hilda’s School is an Anglican Diocesan day and boarding school teacher flexibility. The modern document readers have photographic
located on a magnificent 14-hectare campus in central Southport. capabilities that can capture to microscopic levels. Air conditioning and
The School has strong traditional links with electricity are earthpowered.
Australia’s rural communities and is committed At the opening, The Archbishop of Brisbane, The Most Reverend Dr
to innovative teaching programs catering for the Phillip Aspinall spoke of the importance of science to the modern world.
learning needs of girls. St Hilda’s School has converted its old laboratories into classrooms
Boarding Bursaries are available for Years 6 to 12. for interactive learning for the Middle School.
St Hilda’s School is an Anglican Diocesan day and boarding school for girls
located at Southport on the Gold Coast. The 14-hectare campus is home to 1250
girls from Pre-Preparatory to Year 12. Boarding is available for Years 6 to 12.

For more information
A Top Queensland Performer in NAPLAN and OP 1-15 Results Margie McGregor, Marketing Manager (07) 5577 7255.

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Carbon Neutral Beef –
An Inconvenient Truth
By Andrea Koch
(continues over page)

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“A vegetarian in a Hummer
produces fewer carbon emissions
than a meat eater in a Toyota Prius”
A child, from the film Meat the Truth.

his statement sums up the growing rhetoric against to include the agricultural sector as an emitting industry
agriculture, and in particular beef and livestock, under the scheme. So far, almost all of the debate has
from many in the world who are concerned about focused on the emissions side of the scale, that is the
climate change. role of agriculture in producing GHG emissions, and the
Much of the debate emanates from a report published point in the market chain at which entities are required to
by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation hold permits to emit GHGs.
(UN FAO) in 2006, Livestock’s Long Shadow, which The future of agriculture in a GHG obsessed world
attributes 18 percent of global green house gas (GHG) does not look bright. As it currently stands, carbon
emissions to livestock, more than that generated globally trading is all downside for the Australian farm sector.
by transport. In Australia, agriculture is attributed with There is hope however, which has been ignited and is
contributing 16 percent of national GHG emissions, 75 now being flamed by the Carbon Farming movement in
percent of this from livestock, mainly in the form of Australia and internationally. The hope lies in the other
methane from ruminants. Methane is about twenty times side of the scorecard which is the role of agriculture in
stronger than carbon dioxide in its greenhouse effect, so reducing GHG emissions. Agricultural systems and land
when methane emissions are converted to “carbon management practices for crops and pastures which
dioxide equivalent” (CO2e) as a common denominator lead to the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere
for measuring GHG emissions, methane tends to tip the into long lived soil organic matter pools are slowly being
scales. recognised as a major “sink” for carbon. What is slowly
As advances are made in strategies to reduce fossil emerging is that the farming system used makes all the
fuel based energy and transport, the next big focus for difference between food and fibre which is “carbon
climate change mitigation is on the food system, with negative” versus food and fibre which is “carbon neutral”,
beef being singled out for particular attention. Anti-meat or even “carbon positive”. These practices, which can be
campaigns are multiplying, with a multitude of movies referred to collectively as “carbon farming” are the
such as Meat the Truth, websites and books suggesting antithesis of the high GHG emitting, industrial agricultural
that we humans must drastically reduce or even stop systems which are the basis of the 2006 UN FAO report.
eating meat altogether, in order to mitigate serious As these systems slowly gain recognition, and the
climate change. potential of soil as a significant sink for the existing
From the Australian livestock farmer’s perspective, this legacy load of CO2 in the atmosphere, interest from
must seem ludicrous, yet another assault on farmers farmers is mounting. “Growing” soil carbon while they
who are already struggling with drought, decreased grow food and fibre may lead to an additional revenue
terms of trade, increased input costs, succession issues stream in the form of carbon credits. Instead of just
and in some cases, banks hovering with threats of bearing the cost of GHG emissions, farms which are
foreclosure. demonstrably sequestering soil carbon will generate
Whether you agree with the notion of human induced tradeable credits in the carbon trading market. Whether
climate change or not, that fact is that the world is now or not these soil carbon credits are tradeable under the
slowly grinding its way towards economies which rely CPRS will depend entirely on whether, after 2013, the
less on the emission of carbon dioxide and other agricultural sector is permitted to generate and trade in
greenhouse gases to provide energy – be it fuel, such credits. Until that happens, soil carbon credits
electricity, or food. The agriculture and food production remain tradeable in Australia on the voluntary market,
sectors will be required to make adjustments in this which is not insignificant.
transition, just as the energy and transport sectors are. So what is carbon farming? It is not a silver bullet, but
The proposed Australian Carbon Pollution Reduction a range of farm land management practices which lead
Scheme (CPRS) is not adding much comfort to the to the net sequestration of carbon out of the atmosphere
farming sector, with the treatment of agriculture and into the soil. These practices have in common a
remaining uncertain. The Australian government has series of basic principles, including:
stated that it will wait until 2013 before deciding whether • Maintenance of 100 percent ground cover

weigh up the difference

For fifty-six years the Gracemere Saleyards has been used as a marketing vehicle by cattle
producers to trade livestock whether they be prime or store cattle to a bevy of buyers
competing in an open market. This time honoured tradition has witnessed little change other
than the introduction of liveweight selling in the late 1970s. Liveweight selling saw the
imposition of curfews with carriers having to deliver stock before the 9pm deadline [twelve
hours prior to the commencement of sale].
Improved facilities have seen enhanced service delivery with new selling pens,
unloading/loading ramps [single & double deck], truck-wash, clearing dip, high-mast
lighting, selling ring, agent offices, buyers lounge, cafeteria, toilets, conference facilities,
undercover arena, stables, small stock facilities, truck parking and car parks, reticulated
water and sewerage.
What does the future hold for producers? In the past two decades many producers have
sought to maximize their returns by selling direct bypassing saleyards. This has seen the
demise of a number of saleyards and the development of new facilities in many of the
regional centres. Issues of animal welfare, environmental controls, and safety all add to the
changes incorporated in a modern selling centre and it is apparent these changes will
continue as the industry develops. The modern producer is taking advantage of technology
whilst developing skills in better managing his or her business. Saleyards are no different,
embrace change, use it or lose it.
• Reduced soil disturbance such as zero till Group of farmers who are focusing on growing
• Increased soil biota, by reducing application of perennials to combat erosion and salinity. Wilson has had
chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. great success with growing deep rooted evergreen
• Utilisation of deep rooted perennials as grazing perennial tagasaste in the sandy soil of his farm in the
fodder, or in conjunction with cropping West Midlands region, 400 km north of Perth. Farms in
• Increased biodiversity, both in flora and fauna this region have suffered with significant salinity and
• Increased farm and soil hydrology erosion problems under “traditional” farming methods.
Carbon farming covers a fairly broad church of Using tagasaste as fodder for cattle, and also as a wind
systems and approaches and farmers who utilise these break has reduced erosion to zero and helped
systems have experimented with various aspects of one significantly with managing salinity issues. Wilson’s farm
or more of these methods to work out what suits their has maintained an income in the significantly drier years
farm the best. What is common to all of them however, is that the west has experienced in recent times (the
the increased levels of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) that records show that climate change has already hit the
are generated. hardest in that region of Australia). By implementing
There are a number of recognised land management carbon farming methods, Wilson and other farmers using
systems which come under the banner of carbon this approach have actually reversed the grave threat of
farming, and which utilise these principles in various desertification of this particular region by building and
ways. These include: maintaining soil health and preventing sandy topsoil from
• A range of grazing management systems and blowing into the sea.
approaches which regulate the time and intensity of In Western NSW, farmers Col Seis and Bruce Maynard
stock access to pasture, followed by long periods of have spent the past twenty years developing innovative

Images of Michael and Louisa Kiely on their farm in Gulgong, NSW

time for plant recovery cropping and grazing systems which utilise deep rooted
• Pasture cropping, a zero till, direct drill system of perennials. Seis practices “pasture cropping”,
planting annual crops into perennial pastures maintaining native perennials and cropping directly into
• No kill cropping, a system which utilises Coulter type the thick litter that they produce. He has discovered that
implements to sow into existing plant and litter cover perennial and annual species grow happily together.
• Water management systems which manage the Sheep are also grazed in this system. His chemical
overall hydrology of the farm, including natural inputs are dramatically reduced, which lowers the overall
sequence farming and Yeoman’s Keyline System cost of production. Seis has been measuring soil carbon
• Biological Farming, a range of natural products used on his property for a number of years, and notes that in
to stimulate the growth of soil biota addition to increasing soil carbon, the ecological function
• Composting of the soil has improved, which has led to increased soil
• Restoration of grassy woodlands by planting trees as water holding capacity and improved nutrient availability.
supplemental livestock fodder Maynard has taken a similar approach. His “no kill”
The good news is that Australia has some amazing farming system also utilises native perennials, but
“Carbon Cockies” who are already putting the theory into eliminates chemical and fertiliser inputs and uses
practice, with incredible results. Farmers across Australia tyneless Coulter type implements to sow dry in order to
are now utilising these systems across a wide range of minimise land disturbance. Input costs, including fuel, are
farm types including beef, sheep, cropping, mixed significantly reduced. Diesel use for example has been
cropping and livestock and horticulture. For some of reduced by 80 percent. Maynard’s system also utilises
these Carbon Cockies the key issue has been land time control grazing, and he is finding that increased
regeneration, for others drought proofing has been the plant biodiversity supplies secondary compounds to
prime motivator to make the change to these systems cattle which can assist rumen function and reduce
which work more closely with the ecology of the land. methane production.
The benefits to these farmers extend beyond just Tim Wright from the Northern Tablelands in NSW is a
increasing soil carbon. pioneer of cell grazing, and has spent seventeen years
WA farmer Bob Wilson is a member of the Evergreen drought proofing his farm by increasing stock levels but

The Port of Brisbane is Australia’s premier beef handling
port delivering product to the Asian market quicker than
its Southern counterparts.
The port provides infrastructure to store and ship chilled and frozen meat worldwide to the major destinations of Japan, the
USA east coast and South Korea.

Brisbane handles 56% of the country’s containerised market, of which 35% is chilled and 65% is frozen. In the past 12 months
to June 2009, shipments of meat through the Port of Brisbane totalled 51,554 teus up 2% compared to the previous year.

Over 30 shipping lines are actively involved with the export of beef through the Port of Brisbane, and the port’s two container
stevedores, DP World Brisbane and Patrick Terminals, offer over 2,350 reefer points. Patrick is increasing its reefer plug
points from 1,124 - 1,348 to accommodate future growth in the trade.

The Brisbane Multimodal Terminal the logistical interface between rail, road and sea offers exporters an efficient and reliable
supply chain network, with the capacity to store over 80 containers at any one time.

The two new emerging markets of East Asia and South East Asia continue to drive volumes, compensating for the decrease
in volume to the more traditional market of South Korea. Queensland, as the nations largest beef producer with 12.2 million
head of cattle in June 2008, is a major driving force in Australia’s export beef market.

The Port of Brisbane Corporation is optimistic about long-term growth, and is committed to the continued investment in
port infrastructure that will help sustain Australia’s trade well into the 21st century.

We’re built for beef.

If you’ve got beef to export, why not speak to Australia’s leading beef port? At the Port of Brisbane, we
provide specialist advice and logistical assistance to all customers of our world-class, purpose-built
facilities. For more information please contact our Business Development Manager, Andrew Brinkworth.
P: +61 7 3258 4728 E:
ACN 124 048 522


grazing them intensely for short periods of time. His levels on registered farms, and conducting ongoing
average paddock size has gone from 240 acres to 32 measurement and audits to determine increases in soil
acres. Wright argues that traditional European based carbon levels. Credits are collectively marketed by Prime
approaches to grazing do not provide enough time for Carbon to companies that are seeking to offset their
soil and pastures to recover from droughts. By allowing GHG emissions. Prime Carbon envisages that by 2013,
pastures sufficient recovery time following intense one million hectares of Australian farming land will be
grazing, the hydrology of the soil is improved, leading to converted to carbon farming practices. It aims to provide
increased water holding capacity which is maintained the benchmark for regionally focused carbon exchange
during dry periods. programs in Australia.
Ann Williams is a member of the Conservation Farming SA farmer Errol Koch who has been farming in upper
and No Till Association (CANFA). Williams has South Australia for over fifty years, attended the Carbon
significantly increased carbon and nematode levels in the Farming conference in 2008. He is not too sure about all
soil on her Central West NSW farm, by implementing No this “climate change business”, but he came away from
Till in combination with composts. She has been so the conference filled with hope. After ten years of dry
impressed by the improvements to her soil and resulting seasons and sparse spring rains, with neighbours who
yields that she is now undertaking a master’s research are on a knife’s edge with bank finance and farmers in
program at the University of New England to investigate the region on suicide watch, it was a wonderful thing for
the biological properties and soil amendments in the No him to listen to the “Carbon Cockies” get up and talk,
Till cropping system. farmer after farmer, about how excited they are to be
These farmers and others have showcased their farming. They shared their stories about the rejuvenation
approaches at the annual Carbon Farming conferences, of their land, the drought proofing of their farms, and the
held in Orange NSW over the past three years. These increased profitability of their businesses.
conferences, convened by Carbon Coalition leaders Carbon arming is the reply to the anti-beef and
Michael and Louisa Kiely, are a gathering of farmers, agriculture rhetoric. The goods news is that carbon
scientists from CSIRO and universities across the farming systems are not only good for the climate, they
country, government agriculture and climate change are also good for Australian farmers, and that is good
departments, Catchment Management Authorities and news indeed.
vendors who have cottoned on to the potential of carbon
For more information:
farming, and are now working collectively to ensure that
agriculture does not get left behind in the great climate
change debate. The Kielys have worked tirelessly to get
soil carbon sequestration onto government and scientific
agendas and have networked internationally to ensure
that Australia is leading the world in the development and
recognition of carbon farming practices.
Of major note at the 2009 conference was the Written by Andrea Koch, Sustainable Food Advisor, Sydney NSW.
announcement that it is now easier for carbon farmers to
Andrea Koch is a writer, educator and adviser with a specialist focus on
generate tradeable credits on the voluntary carbon sustainable food. She works with government, business and consumer groups
trading market in Australia. Prime Carbon operates the on finding sustainable solutions to issues of food security, urban food supplies
and sustainable agriculture.  Andrea can be contacted at,
scheme, providing baseline benchmarking of carbon or on 0408 030 081.


How resilient are
Producing, buying or
livestock selling livestock?

This extraordinary decade has
thrown challenge after challenge, yet
Australian livestock producers have
responded to them all with gusto. Stay on top of the latest
livestock & red meat market

he 8-year drought (including two one-in-one news, analysis & forecasts in
hundred year events), BSE and food safety Australia & around the world.
scares, volatile currency markets and now the Read MLA’s publications
global credit crisis and recession have all been for the latest news
and statistics – Meat
extraordinary on their own, let alone in the same decade.
& Livestock Weekly,
Yet Australian producers have expanded beef and Cattle & Sheep Industry
Projections, Red Meat
lamb production since 2000 by making changes such as
Market Reports, and
increased specialisation in breeding, growing or finishing; many more.
building feedlots; adopting drought strategies; and
Get up-to-the-minute information on
making feeding and breeding changes and general cost
MLA’s website
red meat market news
Market signals have played a major role in ushering in daily & weekly livestock market reports from
the National Livestock Reporting Service
these changes, with generally strong prices on offer for
on-line access to one of the best red meat
the right article. Unlike previous severe droughts and databases in the world & ABARE farm data
market downturns, prices did not fall below the cost of overseas market information & detailed
export data.
marketing stock and producers generally ensured that
Talk with MLA’s specialised market analysts
stock were turned off before it was too late.

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information is designed to assist producers (and those
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investment decisions. MLA Market Information can be a
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More information
Phone: +61 2 9463 9301
Just visit, email
Email: or phone 1800 675 717. Web:


Future of farming
a question of scale

After a decade of drought, incredible pressure from an aggressive
international marketplace and years of uncertain income, the Australian
farming industry may yet have reason to be optimistic. Recent rains and
new drought funding provisions may herald that the worst has passed,
but a decade of job losses and an ageing workforce means the sector
must undergo a massive recruitment program if it is to survive.

espite several external elements overwhelming the space of giving farmers skills and market knowledge and
Australian agricultural industry, the sector has managed understanding.”
to boost its production. The gross total value of While it hasn’t been the VFF’s core role to assist with
Australian agricultural manufacture increased 4.4% from 2007– advancing technologically, the VFF has worked closely in
08 to $45.2 billion in 2008–09. The increase was attributed to partnership with Geelong’s Southern Farming Systems. “We’ve
improved seasonal conditions in some areas, but varied from provided a lot of market intelligence, so we’re helping people
commodity to commodity and region to region. understand the market and how to grow their business and
Australian farms directly employed 317,730 people from increase their profitability,” Mr Broad said.
November 2008, though a decade of drought has resulted in The VFF believes there needs to be a significant effort in
approximately 90,000 job losses. As the nation’s largest food regional development to diversify regional economies not just in
and fibre exporting territory, Victoria generates 26 per cent of Geelong and Ballarat, but in towns like Horsham, Kerang,
the nation’s total goods produced, valued at $9 billion per Ouyen and others, to encourage investment in farming.
annum. Victorian farmers have proved resourceful in the face of
According to the City of Greater Geelong’s Bulletin report, protracted drought and
the estimated annual total output for the Barwon region’s economic downturn by adopting innovative crop production
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing sector is $794 million. methods. In particular, the grain sector has developed an
Ensuring our agricultural future remains robust means we will improved no-till technology, better spray management and has
need to replenish approximately one-third of farmers within the trained in how to calendar sow. Dairy sector farmers have also
next ten years due to an ageing workforce, according to discovered how to milk on minimal water allocations, and for
Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) president Andrew Broad. Mr the land sector, farmers have learned how to grain feed
Broad says the primary focus for the VFF is ensuring farms are livestock.
brought back to full production, lobbying the government for “It’s been really quite dramatic, the ability of the farmer to
assistance for drought-ravaged farmers and farming safety, adapt in a dry environment,” said Mr Broad, who reports that
rather than focusing on re-skilling those leaving the sector. the procedure of altering crop-sowing dates has also proved
“We’re not in the space where we’re re-training; we’re in the effective.

“We farm almost completely differently on our farms, from a that, that’d be as far as it goes.”
grain’s perspective, than what we did ten years ago. In the past Meanwhile president of the Royal Geelong Agricultural and
we used to wait, we used to get earlier rains and so we’d be Pastoral Society (RGAPS), David Heath, offers a local
more reliant on clover-based pastures and grass-based standpoint. He says Geelong agriculture operates slightly
pastures; now we actually sow a batch of oats-type pastures. differently in that most of the farming land around the city is run
We’re on no-till, whereas it used to be full cultivation. We’re on by part-time farmers who work in town. Their holdings are
wider row spacings, we’re using press wheels, and we’re using smaller areas and pressure from people buying rural land for
GPS technology, higher break-out times, differing fertilisers, GM lifestyle reasons and suchlike has meant full-time farmers in the
(genetic modification) technology and differing marketing region are far fewer.
techniques,” he said. Yet, says Mr Heath, many of those farmers are also farming
In fact Mr Broad reports that it’s an understatement to say on a far broader scale than before, often share-farming or
there have been some superior advancements made over the contracting or running many of those areas purchased for
last five years within the agricultural industry. lifestyle purposes.
“If you compare agriculture with any other industry, we’re “Geelong isn’t a big farming community. For starters, there’s
actually the leaders at adapting to change and new technology. only farm land to the north. We haven’t got the double mass.
We’re by no means dragging our feet; our productivity gains Even Ballarat is a far bigger agricultural town than Geelong.
are unparallel to any other industry across the country. Our And we have so many other industries going on that agriculture
biggest concern at the moment is we’ve had a run of dry years. disappears out of the perspective a bit,” Mr Heath said.
We’ve now got a reasonable low price and we want to maintain While there’s been debate as to what extent Australia’s $4.6
that youth in our industry because some of the greatest billion dairy industry — Australia’s third largest agricultural
productivity gains are achieved by farmers who are thirty-five sector — is in crisis, Mr Heath says the dairy industry is
and under.” practically non-existent in Geelong due to drought and fiscal
A primary focus for the VFF is attracting new blood to decline.
agriculture, which is a constant challenge. “It’s contracted back to the wetter country, going further
“In my area there are not a lot of young farmers farming, but south. So there’s virtually no dairying in the Geelong region;
then you step out from my area a little bit and there’s plenty. So you’ve gotta go to the other side of Winchelsea, around Colac
it sort of peaks and troughs, but then we’ve got to look a little to find it — there are a few dairy operations but not many
bit more at how we support our younger farmers.” about.
Research agronomist, Rohan Wardle with Southern Farming “With the last 10 or 12 years that we’ve had on top of the
Systems, who is predominantly involved in the grain sector, economic conditions we’ve had this year for dairying, many
delivers a more dire prediction: “I think the last ten years of people have dropped out of dairying and are running more
drought has pushed a lot of youth away from the industry, extensive-type cattle/sheep operations or cropping
which we’ll probably never get back. We need some good operations,” he said.
housing, because they often pretty much get a dog box. And Mr Heath also agrees that the ageing population is a concern
starting off on a pretty crap wage is always a way of keeping and points to the difficulty of drawing young people to the
[young workers] for one day and they’re gone the next.” stock industries. Evidence of the decline can be seen – in a
Farming is struggling to compete with the mining industry, state that used to boast a thriving wool industry, there is not
which unlike the rural industries experienced booming even one full-time person person teaching wool classing in
conditions and attractively high wages over the past decade. Victoria.
Attracting and retaining young farmers is not simply about “Some of the trade-type services like wool classers are going
numbers. With youth comes new ideas and a greater interest in to be difficult attracting people to. It’s also difficult to attract
new technologies, which brings productivity gains like those good young workers for diesel machinery apprenticeships,”
the industry has recorded over the past year. said Mr Heath. “The one bit where I do get a little bit worried is
“Variable rate technologies and all that kind of thing is certainly about wool classers and where they’ll all come from. But it’s
driving a lot of productivity gains and ways of bringing youthful been talked about. All my working life I’ve heard this: ‘I don’t
people back into the industry for sure,” Mr Wardle said. know where we’re going to get the shearers for the sheep,’ but
Though from a financial standpoint, he believes government I’ve yet to see sheep left with wool on them.”
should fund the majority of training and luring people to work Overall, as operations grow larger and more efficient,
on farms to guarantee the quality of our future food supplies. opportunities reduce as a consequence, though Mr Heath
“The problem is that fluctuating grain prices and fluctuating believes abundant good training is available within agriculture.
returns makes farmers hard to invest in; in training and in staff,” “We still have a very vital, vibrant agricultural sector despite
said Mr Wardle. “They can afford them this year, but they can’t everything and with far less people in it. And they are generally
afford them next year; they’ve invested all these dollars in far better trained and working just as hard as they always did,
training and it walks out the door.” achieving far more with far larger equipment,” he says. “There’s
Fortunately, he says hi-tech advancements have been a less stock numbers and far more cropping, which has been
lifeline for some. one of the declines in people working in the industry because
“Technology in the cropping industry has certainly pulled a lot you need more labour when you’re working with stock than
of guys out of wool and into cropping because of GPS and you do with crops, and the increase in area under crop and
yield mapping and all these things that they can automatically decrease in area under livestock has had a fair balance on
get a response to. It’s like ‘righty-oh, I know what my crop’s that.”
doing; I can see what’s happening in my paddock, I know how Mr Heath says that as no group adopts technology faster
I can improve that next year, pretty much,’ so they certainly get than farmers, they can use technology rather than labour to get
that automatic response which is fantastic.” the job done. He also refutes that access to technology is
However, Mr Wardle said farmers aren’t devising new ways inadequate, as suggested by a recent parliamentary report.
to live off the land. “It [the technology] mostly comes from private resource and
“You’re either a dairy farmer or a sheep farmer or you’re we pay dearly for it,” Mr Heath said. “We use all those
growing crops or you’re doing both. But other than that…it’s technologies. I work with a cropping operation house. All our
pretty limited. I think you’ll find that a wool-classer will be a work is on satellite guidance; agronomists are doing all the
wool-classer for a while and might do a bit of shearing and work. It’s quite phenomenal the scale we work on.”
then they might go home and grow a few crops, but other than Terry Broun Jnr


Cashflow a key challenge
for agribusiness
Drought and climate change may get all the press, but cashflow management
looms large among the major challenges facing agribusinesses.

he availability of cash is critical for business However, prioritise purchases and look at how these
success through good and bad times. Being out assets are funded, as there may be alternatives such
of pocket can have a domino effect on other as leasing.
parts of the business. 4. Manage risk to protect profits and create
According to Khan Horne, General Manager of certainty.
Agribusiness at NAB, businesses need to tighten their Protecting your future cashflow from the effects of
belts when conditions are tough to squeeze cash out external influences can be a smart move. Risk
of the business while still remaining profitable. management solutions can include fixing interest,
“If a business has cash available there may be hedging exchange rates and taking a forward position
attractive investment opportunities that can be fully on prices. The right insurance – for people as well as
maximised in the short or long term,” he says. “If the buildings and equipment – is also important.
money will be needed in a few months for planting or 5. Use your networks.
restocking, there is no point locking it up long term, See what the neighbours are doing, attend
but that doesn’t mean it can’t be put to good use.” courses, and keep learning. It’s also a good time to
High interest Business Cash Maximiser accounts be talking to your team of experts -your accountant,
can be a good short-term solution, as can term financial adviser and your local NAB
deposits. Agribusiness Banker - about your business, where
Farm Management Deposits are a good option if you want to take it and what the economic
cash is available over a longer period. environment means for you.

The right levers The biggest challenge
When looking to maximise your cashflow, not Cashflow was chosen as the biggest challenge facing
everything can be changed at once. As such, care agribusinesses in a survey conducted by NAB and
needs to be taken in considering what levers can be Galaxy Research in April 2009, with 56% of 914
pulled to improve it in the short, medium and long agribusiness respondents (owners of managers of a
term. business employing 1-29 people) selecting it as a
Mr Horne offers five tips to help businesses ‘challenge’, and 37% nominating it the ‘biggest
manage their cashflow: challenge’.
1. Understand the difference between cash in Agribusiness respondents also listed drought and
the bank and cashflow. climate change as challenges to be faced in the
Cash in the bank is only a ‘point in time’ future.
measurement, before paying creditors, overheads NAB has been helping farmers and other
and fixed costs. Cashflow is more dynamic, and businesses manage cashflow for more than 150
takes into account income being received and years. NAB’s agribusiness bankers are specialists
expenses being paid out over a period of time. who understand the cyclical nature of the industry
2. Control and reduce operating expenses. and the challenges being faced.
Make sure you fully understand the true cost and NAB Agribusiness can provide assistance and
profitability of everything you do, and how it aligns to insights to help review the current situation of your
your business plan. Talk to staff to get their buy-in agribusiness and plan for the future.
and ask them to help you to identify and reduce
3. Release cash invested in fixed assets. For more information, contact your local NAB
Capital investment in production technology will agribusiness banker, call 13 10 12 or visit
help to boost business efficiency over the long term.

Important Notice: NAB has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and recommends that you consider whether any
advice in this article is appropriate for your circumstances.

About NAB Agribusiness
National Australia Bank (NAB) Agribusiness employs more than 580 agribusiness banking specialists in 110 metropolitan and regional locations
Australia-wide. The Agribusiness team use their local and industry knowledge to better understand the unique environmental and economic needs
of farmers and businesses beyond the farm gate - whether they provide inputs into agriculture or process, distribute or market primary produce.
NAB’s flexible range of agribusiness products and services is delivered by listening to and working with customers, to tailor the best packages and
advice for their businesses. For further information please visit


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The Farmer
wants a future
Special Feature: Adapting to a Changing Climate


The future of
farming in Australia,
and our access to
the freshest food at
the best price, will
depend on how well
farmers adapt to the
changing conditions
they face on land.
Story: Georgie Oakeshott
and Geoffrey Maslen

Plenty to think about In 2007, Dr Howden shared a Nobel Peace Prize for his
Most farmers are already weather obsessed. They have to be. contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Their livelihood depends on the right mix of temperatures and Change, which identified Australian agriculture as particularly
rainfall. Timing is everything. There’s talk of ‘good years’ and vulnerable to changes in climate.
‘bad years’ but not much talk of a ‘normal’ year anymore — if The panel’s report warned of potential negative impacts on
there ever was such a thing. the amount of produce, quality of produce and reliability of
Because of this long history of dealing with changeable production, and on the natural resource base on which
weather, farmers have developed a great deal of skill in agriculture depends.
managing variations in climate. But what if some of these These conclusions are based on projections of hotter, drier
changes become permanent? What does a hotter, drier, more conditions across much of Australia, including temperature
variable climate mean for Australia’s $33 billion agricultural increases between 0.6 to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030 and
industry? between one to five degrees Celsius by 2070.
According to one of Australia’s leading scientific researchers, These projections, on the CSIRO website, say rainfall over
climate change is already having an impact on the way we farm southern Australia is expected to decrease by 10 per cent,
while northern area may see changes between minus-10 and
in this country.
plus-five per cent. This rainfall is expected to be more intense
“Looking at average temperatures across Australia, a cold
over most areas in summer and in autumn, and in northern
year now is a warm to hot year in the time of our grandparents.
areas in winter and spring.
At current trends of temperature increase, it’s probably only
In its submission to the House of Representatives inquiry into
nine or 10 years away before the coldest year we experience
agriculture and climate change, CSIRO says primary industries
will be hotter than the hottest year ever experienced by our
need to anticipate these changes, be prepared for uncertainty,
grandparents,” says Dr Mark Howden from the CSIRO Climate and develop and implement adaptation strategies now.
Adaptation Flagship. Calling for an unprecedented level of forward planning, the
“When you think of it like that, it’s pretty inconceivable that CSIRO submission tells the Primary Industries Committee that
we could keep doing the same things exactly the way we used the impact of climate change and the need to adapt are
to do,” Dr Howden says. already unavoidable. In some cases, large scale
It’s not hard to find examples of how Australian farming is transformational responses will be necessary “which may
already responding to changes in climate. There’s cropping in involve the translocation of entire industries”.
places previously considered too wet for crops, and farmers Chairing the inquiry is Dick Adams (Member for Lyons,
moving away from irrigated crops into livestock. There’s also Tasmania) from the island state famous for its fresh produce,
the example of a peanut company which expanded its wine and cheese. He’s confident the inquiry will throw some
operations into the Northern Territory where it’s wetter. light on the direction needed to minimise the risks and
“We’re already seeing responses both at an individual level maximise the opportunities.
and at a company level,” Dr Howden says. “Some farmers “Farming has a long history of changing in this country but,
would say explicitly they’re not doing this because of climate given climate change, this committee wants to look at the way
change and that they don’t believe in climate change, but we use land, soil and water in a new way so we understand
nevertheless they’re having to change their practices. In a what climate change means to agriculture. We’re keen to see
sense it by-passes the issue of what’s causing these variations what people are already doing, what people think we should be
in climate. Farmers are going to have to change their doing and what direction we should be going,” Mr Adams
management anyway.” says. (continued on page 18)

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“Putting our resources into black holes is not where the where famers are not just doing the same thing year after year,
future is and is not a good way to spend the public dollar. I but are varying according to the circumstances.
think the Australian people would rather be assisting “Even under the worst climate change scenarios we’ll still
enterprises that have a business plan looking to the future; that see agriculture practiced in this country, but it could look quite
will adapt to climate change and the issues that confront us in different to what it is now and be practiced in different places,
the next 20 to 30 years. We’ve also got to look at the and the detail of that practice will be quite different indeed,” he
opportunities at the enterprise level and look at where we’re says.
going in a world sense. I think farmers will get left behind if they “The demand for agriculture and food products generally is
don’t adapt and look for opportunities.” going to increase because of increased economic growth and
Adapting to climate change in the wheat industry, for affluence in countries like China and India, but also because
example, includes changing the planting times to suit the new our population across the globe is growing rapidly. We’re
conditions, changing row spacing and planting densities, and looking at having to double food production by 2050 and
using new technologies to concentrate water into the crop. because we only have a limited amount of agricultural land that
“We’re just starting a program to have these climate-ready means we’re going to have to significantly increase our
crops available to be rolled out in the future, so rather than agricultural production.”
waiting for the future to hit us, we’re trying to be prepared for So rather than a bleak future of drought and despair,
it,” he says. successful management of climate change should lead to a
Of more immediate concern to the National Farmers’ productive and lucrative future for farming in this country.
Federation, however, is the government’s mitigation strategy to It’s a sentiment echoed by a Wall Street veteran who recently
reduce greenhouse gas emissions. told an Australian television audience that agriculture is about
In its submission to the inquiry, the peak farming organisation to become one of the most exciting industries in the world.
is warning that the immediate challenge of adapting to According to Jim Rogers, CEO of Rogers Holdings, people
mitigation policies may be a far greater challenge for farmers who produce real goods will be the ones driving Lamborghinis.

than adapting to climate change itself. His advice to anyone interested in making money is simple: go
It says the government’s proposed carbon pollution become a farmer.
reduction scheme has the potential to reduce the value of
Australian agricultural production by $2.4 billion per annum by Beyond doubt
2020, and $10.9 billion per annum by 2030 compared to what Within Australia’s farming community, among men and women
would otherwise be the case under a business as usual who are ever-watchful of the land that is their livelihood, there
scenario. are doubters.
The farmers’ federation says over 1.6 million jobs, 20 per Almost one in five farmers surveyed in Tasmania is openly
cent of our exports and the vast majority of the food we sceptical about climate change — a scepticism fuelled by their
consume depend on the ability of our farmers to meet climatic recent memory of a potential disaster that became a fizzler.
changes. It has called for increased research, a new model for “They distrust scientist to the extent that they believe climate
drought support, and national coordination of research, change is just another ‘Year 2000’, invented for media hype
development and extension services. and money,” says Frank Vanclay, a professor of rural and
It is also calling for massive funding boost to improve our environmental sociology at the University of Tasmania.
forecasting capability, steering the committee towards a “Many farmers were required to outlay much effort and cost
drought information system in the United States to become Y2K compliant and they now feel duped by what
( That system provides information right they perceive as a scam. This distrust creates a great deal of
down to local county level on soil moisture, rainfall, run-off, resistance to even considering the idea of climate change,”
stream flows and early warning systems, with a priority on Professor Vanclay says. “Arguably farmers need to prepare for
preparedness. climate change in order to create benefits and avoid costs. Yet
This kind of information rich farming will be critical to the resistance to taking action to adapt to projected changes in
future success of agriculture. According to Dr Howden, future climate or to mitigate emissions is widespread.”
farming will be more opportunistic, risk sensitive and targeted, Professor Vanclay and his PhD student Aysha Fleming were

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among the first to make a submission to the Primary Industries
Committee inquiry into climate change and agriculture. The two Tipping Point
researchers conducted a survey of apple growers, dairy A better understanding of human impact on land is vital in helping
farmers and farming consultants. Professor Vanclay says that to determine how humankind should work that land in the future.
although the research was based in Tasmania, he believes the For the past 20 years, Peter Gell has been collecting core sample
results are widely applicable elsewhere across Australia.
two and three metres deep into the earth from sites across
Despite the minority of farmers who claimed change was
another Y2K scam, most of those interviewed accepted it was south-eastern Australia. The cores contain material that has built
occurring and about half said they had noticed the effect on up over hundreds and even thousands of years. Back in their
the Tasmanian landscape as well as on their farms. Yet, while laboratory at the University of Ballarat, Professor Gell and his PhD
acknowledging the reality of global warming, only on in five students study the different layers they collect to determine the
thought it was caused by human activity and a third were even changes that have occurred over these long periods.
They are able to build up a picture of climate variations and what
“They were distrustful of government actions taken to
penalise farmers, especially during times of drought and the vegetation was like stretching back beyond the arrival of
financial strain when they are already struggling,” the Europeans to the time when only Aborigines occupied the land, as
researchers say in their submission. “They were angry that their they had for perhaps 50,000 years. “I’ve deliberately focused on
current efforts to be environmentally sustainable were not being the last couple of thousand years of change to provide more of a
recognised or valued, especially as carbon stores in pasture, context for people to understand the impact the arrival of
soil, orchards or shelter belts will not be recognised, at least
Europeans had on our landscape,” Professor Gell says.
under current plans.
“Some (34 per cent) are worried about the future of the “We want to understand what the baseline ecosystems were like
planet to the point that their concerns inhibit action. They feel and what the natural responses were in a landscape where
Indigenous people lived with nothing like the technology we have.”
Professor Gell is a “palaeo-ecologist”, an expert on terrestrial and
wetland ecology, fire and vegetation history — and climate change.
As Director of the Centre for Environmental Management at
Ballarat, he is also convener of a national network examining the
impact of people on Australian ecosystems, as well as heading an
international network on the effect of humans on the world’s lakes.
“I try to compare what Australia has experienced in the recent
past with current forecasts to get some idea of how scary the
rapidity or magnitude of change is for the future.”
As part of his research, Professor Gell has uncovered evidence
that the incidence of fires increased dramatically with the arrival of
Europeans after the 1830s. Contrary to conventional beliefs, the
first squatters burnt the land far more regularly than Aborigines ever
did, he says.
“Victoria’s early settlers turned most of the original forests into
woodland and most of the woodland into grassland so, although
the total ‘fuel load’ has decreased, conditions for bushfires within
the remaining forests are different now than they were 300 years
Some biologists believe the Earth has reached a tipping point
overwhelmed, that the planet is already on a path to
where human impact on the world’s ecosystems has been so
destruction, or they feel it is beyond the scope of their lifetime
severe, it is too late to prevent a global disaster. Despite all he
to create a solution and that it will be a problem for future
generations.” knows about what has happened to Australia in general and the
The challenge facing the House of Representatives Primary Murray River basin in particular since Europeans arrived, Professor
Industries Committee is to identify appropriate government Gell is not as pessimistic as some.
action to tackle the manifold problems climate change raises. He takes heart from the work of Brian Walker, a research fellow
“The impacts of climate change are not just biophysical, they
with the CSIRO’s sustainable ecosystems. Dr Walker is renowned
also have economic and social dimensions,” says the
for his work on resilience: the capacity of a system to absorb
submission to the inquiry from the Climate Change Research
Strategy for Primary Industries network. disturbance and to undergo change while still retaining essentially
The network is a collaborative partnership between rural the same function, structure, identity and feedbacks. He
research and development corporations, state and co-authored a 2006 book with David Salt, Resilience thinking:
Commonwealth primary industry departments, and university Sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing world (Walter
experts. It says there is a role for government to “assist Reid: Books).
individuals and communities moving from declining industries
“We might have reached a tipping point but that doesn’t mean
to emerging ones, while minimising social dislocation and
dysfunction.” we are on an inexorable slide into the abyss,” Professor Gell says.
There will need to be greater investment in rural research and “We may have just kicked over to a different system but as that
development, commercialisation, extension and training, the system is likely to be less productive and sustaining, we have to
network says, to develop and equip the next generation of work out how the new system operates and what it takes for
researchers, decision makers and leaders in the fields of humankind to continue to exist.”
agriculture, natural resource management and climate change

sciences. to be subsidised and/or a minimum price guaranteed.”
“Farmers cannot rationally respond to climate change and The Cooper-Elleway submission argues that farmers are in a
adapt to its likely impacts without basic information about what good position to do environmental work for the benefit of the
changes may occur in their climates and the implications of this general population and payment for this would contribute to a
for their agricultural practices,” the network’s submission farmer’s viability despite variable seasons. For example, they
states. could help control pests such as foxes, rabbits, cats, goats
The network also sees a need for social analysis to consider and other feral animals. They could also clear weeds such as
the impacts of climate change on rural communities and to box-thorns on and off their properties, fence off scrub and
better target government’s social spending in those watercourses, and sow sand hills with trees to reduce erosion
communities. and increase biodiversity.
The capacity of rural communities to respond to changing “All this costs money and time, and as farmers get poorer,
circumstances is also addressed in other early submissions less of these activities are possible. So help keep farming viable
sent to the Primary Industries Committee. A network in Victoria by paying for environmental work. Other on-farm activities,
called the South West Climate Change Forum has devised a such as hosting wind and solar electricity farms, should be
system to assist its rural community, including farmers. The supported [and] governments need to enact policies to
group says its success comes from the forum working with encourage more locally-based farming support industries.”
local, regional and state government departments and The submission makes a plaintive plea to reverse the effects
authorities to develop what it calls “climate change adaptation of globalisation by keeping the manufacture of farm machinery
strategies throughout Victoria’s south-west”. in Australia. Local manufacturers can act more quickly and
The forum evolved from discussions among western appropriately in responding to the needs climate change
Victorian dairy farmers about the lack of planning to prepare for imposes, rather than having to rely on sourcing all agricultural
climate change. The first meeting of interested parties occurred machinery needs from overseas, the writers argue.
in June 2007, culminating in the group’s formation. It now has “Local business can maintain and quickly adapt their
representatives from water and catchment management machinery for fighting bushfires, ameliorating flooding from
authorities, the main regional primary industries of dairy, cyclones and, as when needed, when preparing for a war.
seafood, timber, cropping and livestock, plus groups with an Farmers and local manufacturers need to be helped to remain
interest in sustainability. viable. Incentives need to be given to stay rather than allow
Members of the forum have spoken to more than 500 companies to move offshore to find cheap labour.”
primary producers at industry field days and to more than The shortest submission so far is from Sandor con Kontz
2,000 rural people involved in primary production at workshops who also says the solution rests with Australian farmers
and other meetings. Through articles in newspapers and media themselves. In less than 50 words, Mr von Kontz tells the
coverage on television and radio, the group estimates that committee what the government should do: “Since I am a
information on climate change specific to the region and simple farmer please do not expect an elaborate submission.
primary producers has reached most farmers in the south- My idea is simple. I am absolutely positive that the answer to
west. the problem of climate change lays in our way of managing
In pointing to the applicability of the forum model, the land. My idea is: pay farmers a basic wage for land
submission notes that most government agencies and industry management which counteracts climate change.”
groups associated with primary production were looking for
leadership on climate change and welcomed a Pick of the Crop
grassroots-driven organisation taking responsibility for delivery Dairy farmer Tom Pearce doesn’t know whether it’s climate
of information to their member and stakeholders. It highlights change or seasonal variations, but years of unreliable rainfall
the importance of a “single entity collating and coordinating have sparked an efficiency drive on his family farm, which is
climate change information for primary producers that is delivering excellent results.
relevant to the region and its primary industries and provides a “We’re trying to be more efficient with less,” he says, “and
conduit for information and funding from government we’re still getting the same amount of milk.”
agencies.” With 500 animals including 200 milking cows needing
“It helps minimise duplication, encourages cooperation and constant care and attention on their dairy farm near Bega
partnerships and created a high profile hub for the members (NSW), the Pearces work “flat out” in the good times to
involved. [The forum] is viewed by stakeholders as agile, maximise the value of every drop of water and every blade of
motivated and proactive which has contributed to the support grass.
the forum has won. Industries and agencies have welcomed an “The cheapest feed for us is grass, and without rain we have
independent and ‘neutral’ body which was initiated and is to buy in grain and hay and that’s where it gets expensive,” Mr
driven by the grass-root members.” Pearce says. “So we have to adapt, and that’s why we’re still
Submissions have also arrived from individual farmers. One here.”
came from Dr Kath Cooper and Mike Elleway, farmers and His attitude and leadership has won him a spot as one of this
seed-growers in the South Australian Mallee country. The two year’s Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Young Achievers, a
urge governments across Australia to provide more support for group of seven young Australians selected from across the
the farming community, declaring that the country “needs state for their contributions to their communities.
full-time, professional, career farmers who are able to live, able They all agree the weather is the biggest topic of
to buy food, get health care, have their children educated, have conversation amongst farmers at the moment. They also
a holiday from time to time, and have access to affordable believe younger farmers in particular are taking advantage of
water, power, communications and transport”. new techniques and technologies to improve farm efficiency
“Career farmers need income security. If farmers are in a and sustainability.
reasonable financial position, it is amazing how well they can While they come from a range of backgrounds with different
adapt to the impacts of climate change and produce well experiences of life on the land, they all share a fierce
without further help. The government needs to enable farming determination to see farming overcome its many challenges to
to become a sufficiently financially rewarding activity. Farmers thrive and prosper.
can still produce a lot in a variable climate, but their production Speaking at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, these “achievers
needs to be rewarded, particularly in consideration of their today, leaders tomorrow” had a clear message for the
ever-increasing input costs. Some food production may need parliamentary inquiry into agriculture and climate change:

farmers are brilliant adapters, just keep them involved in the “We can’t grow some products for the price we can import
decision making process. them, and farmers don’t really have control over those sorts of
Adapting to drier conditions for the Pearce family has meant things,” he says.
being more careful with their water, getting maximum value “Farmers are just about at the peak of their efficiency and
from their pastures and downsizing their herd slightly. they need secure margins or prices to stay viable. Farmers
“I think farmers are good adapters as long as they’re involved have done just about as much as they can do. There needs to
in the process and not forced to do things,” says Kellie Cooke, be a policy framework to secure their future.”
a milk supply officer on the NSW north coast. He says farmers are already adapting to the changing
“A lot of farmers are sceptics and you’re never going to get climate, with a massive shift away from conventional farming
them to come across [to climate change] but as along as you practices such as ploughing and sowing, to practices using
don’t force them into things, and you work with them, they will direct drill machinery, water conservation, retaining stubbles,
adapt and it will be OK,” she says. and running less livestock to retain ground cover and water.
Two recent floods demonstrated to her the enormous impact Mr Stivens says some of the older farmers aren’t convinced
weather has on farmers’ lives, regardless of how such events about climate change, but younger farmers are embracing new
are labelled. Blackouts disrupted milking routines, while flooded technologies and practices.
roads made milk collections impossible. “If you talk to the older generations, those which are
“I know in most other areas in Australia it’s been getting a lot beginning to step away from controlling the farms and working
drier, but for us it’s been either colder or wetter,” she says. the land, they reckon climate change is a furphy. They think it’s
“If floods were going to become significantly more regular, just a made up bureaucrat word to give someone a job in
then farms on the flood plains would have to move. Even parliament.
though on the coast the high rainfall is ideal for dairy farming, if “But talk to the younger farmers, those stepping in now who
it’s going to continually flood, meaning constant animal health have had experiences outside farming, they’re a bit more wary
issues and soil issues, then they’re going to have to shift.” of climate change and the direction it’s going to push
Liz Pearson, raised in Guyra and now working for an animal agriculture. They’re trying to understand what it means, and if
health company in Cootamundra, believes farmers are very farming is going to be viable in our area.”
resilient. To a large extent that viability will depend on rainfall, always a
“I’m very optimistic about the future of farming, with the big topic of conversation in Riverina town of Leeton, where
company I work for highly involved in developing technologies Shannon McCormack has spent the past 12 months working
which are making farmers more efficient and sustainable,” she with farmers “doing it tough”.
says. “Being a strong irrigation area they’ve been struggling a lot
Through her involvement in the feedlot sector, she’s seen with water allocations and trading, and they’re really struggling.
improvements especially with water use, which will be good for They want some rain and keep hoping and praying it will
the industry’s future. happen.”
Junee agronomist Tim Stivens shares this optimism about He says the younger farmers are “opening their minds” to
the future but thinks farmers have reached a point where they new and better practices and looking for more efficient ways to
are almost as efficient as they can be, and need policy support farm, but it’s a constant contest between the climate and
from the government to guarantee their income. money. (continued on page 24)

Farmers and the impacts of climate change
The House of Representatives Primary Industries and Resources Committee is investigating the role of government in assisting Australian farmers
to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The committee is considering how farmers are or could be adapting to climate change, and the potential impacts on downstream processing.
It is looking into the role of government in assisting farmers to shift towards farming practices that promote resilience in the farm sector, and
government’s role in promoting research, extension and training that assists farmers to better adapt to climate change. The role of rural research
and development is also being examined.

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“The climate’s got to be right for you to make the dollars,” he about it because we’ve had some rain but not enough,” she
says. “In farming, the highs are really high but when it’s low, it’s says.
really low.” According to Patricia Cooke, from near Cowra, the seasons
Tired of waiting for a break in the weather, some farmers have definitely changed. “You can’t plan as much as you used
have moved out of cropping into lambs, he says. Others have to, and you just have to work day by day,” she says.
made the tough decision to sell, which often comes with She would like the parliamentary inquiry to consider ways to
additional heartache when properties fail to return the prices promote information sharing, suggesting a series of rural
the owners thought they were worth. forums where farmers could get together with their mates to
It’s even worse when they can’t sell, even though they want discuss the challenges they’re all facing.
to, which Orange agronomist Melissa Lauff has seen “Farmers are more likely to take it seriously if they don’t have
happening. someone dictating what they have to do. They need to be able
“I’ve been hearing farmers say ‘if we don’t get a good year, to get together to discuss things. It’s better that way. And if we
we’re out’, but then if it doesn’t rain land values are down and don’t do it now, who knows how our industries will keep
they can’t sell,” she says. going.”
“There are farmers who have lived their whole lives on the Whatever the weather, young farmers like Tom Pearce will
land and they’re saying this is the worst it’s ever been. They’re keep doing the best they can to adapt, modernise, be more
constantly looking for new ways of doing things because efficient and sustainable, while also hoping for a return to more
they’re accepting this is the way it’s going to be, that it’s never favourable conditions.
going to get back to how it used to be.” “I guess it’s in the back of people’s minds, the climate
She would like to see more financial assistance for farmers change thing, but we’re taking each day as it comes…and the
when times are tough to help them plant their next crop, or buy rainfall is always a day closer,” he says.
their next lot of cattle, just until they’re “back on their feet”.
For more information, visit or email
“In my area around Orange, the government has just or phone (02) 6277 4500.
cancelled drought assistance and a lot of people are upset (source: About the House)

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ut the journey has only just begun for this boutique olive

Camilo Olives oil producer. Established in 2002, Camilo Olives have
waited until now for their first ‘on’ year – a year of full
production that has reaped great rewards. Camilo was
showered with awards during the latter part of 2009 for its
The history of Camilo Olives is quality olive oils, taking out a clean sweep of gold medals at
something of an agricultural fairy- the Melbourne Show, and two silvers in Sydney – all before the
official launch of the Camilo brand.
tale. The family-owned business, This is a remarkable achievement for such a young company.
managed by mother and daughter The olive groves for Camilo’s impressive oils were planted less
than a decade ago, in 2002, on a property just outside of
team Joan McGovern and Anne Geelong.
Rathjen, has all of the elements of a Joan and Peter McGovern moved from Melbourne to
Geelong for career reasons – Joan has a background in PR
classic story – humble beginnings, and communications – and set about a rigorous search for the
some obstacles along the way, and right property. “We wanted at least 100 acres, a reliable supply
of water and a view because we had moved from Tasmania in
a happy ending. 1996 and really wanted a place we could enjoy as a lifestyle as

well as an income generator,” says Joan. the rows), only to have to mow them on a slant from that point
Establishing a nationwide name in olive oil was not their first on. Says Joan, “we have learned to live with leaning on the
priority when the McGoverns arrived in Geelong, but, having mowers but if we could, we would happily flatten the ground.”
been inspired by a friend’s grove of a few hundred trees, they One of the biggest lessons learned through the planting and
purchased 136 acres of land nestled between the Inverleigh cultivating process was the amount of water that was needed
flora and fauna reserve and the Leigh River, with the intention of to grow olives – a difficult lesson to learn during an extended
creating a sizeable grove of their own. drought. “Our trees were planted early on in the drought years.
When the decision had been made to establish the grove, Our irrigation system didn’t work for years, and it was only a
the McGoverns were surprised (and delighted) to be told by couple of years ago that we could ensure that our trees
their daughter Anne that she would pursue a Degree in received the water they had been begging for,” says Joan.
Agricultural Business. While Anne undertook her studies, the “People tell us that olives don’t need much water, but they do
first 20 acres of the grove was planted, and Camilo Olives was during their establishment years. Our seven-year old trees are
born. probably really only five years in maturity but they virtually sang
For the first few years, the team at Camilo Olives were, as their way through the last season and happily surrendered a
Joan says, “‘green’ to farming and to olives and took all the fantastic crop.”
advice received.” As with any new endeavour, the McGoverns Joan notes that ‘it takes five years to produce an olive
discovered along the way that not all advice is good advice, harvest of reasonable quantity, seven years to start breaking
having mounded their olive rows (creating a ‘hill’ effect along even and 10 years to be in full production.” During the growing
years at Camilo Olives, the family set up a small processing
plant on their property for future use, and used it to process
olives for other growers, honing their skills at the same time.
When it came time to harvest and process their own produce,
Anne did most of the processing, which resulted in a fine
quality Ligurian oil that won a silver medal at the 2009 Sydney
Royal Fine Food Awards.
In order to ensure that Camilo’s brand would be established
as soon as production commenced, the family worked on
creating labelling and a recognisable brand name image,
assisted by a Melbourne design company. The result is
beautiful packaging, depicting an olive tree behind the
company’s distinctive Camilo logo. Joan acknowledges the
importance of good branding. “We get a continuous stream of
compliments for our branding, and I know that it helps to sell
the product.”
Beyond the branding, however, the product contained within
must be superior quality as well, a feat that Camilo has
certainly achieved. “There’s nothing more important than
putting quality inside – and that has been our main aim since
the inception of the grove,” says Joan.
Joan and daughter Anne set about training their palates to
recognise a good oil. Both women trained to become Victorian
Sensory Panel members, which has stood them in good stead
to identify a quality product – undoubtedly one of the reasons
that Camilo has managed to achieve such high-grade
production so quickly.
The main olive variety at Camilo is Ligurian, and the others
include Kalamata, Pendolino, Corregiola and Koroneiki. In
2009, Camilo produced three distinct extra virgin olive oils – a
Koroneiki/Frantoio blend, the silver-medal winning Ligurian, and
a Koroneiki/Barnea blend. The Koroneiki/Frantoio blend swept
a lot of prize categories, including best in show at the 2009
Royal Melbourne Show. The oil was awarded gold in the
commercial bulk robust category, won the commercial
category championship trophy, and won the Victorian Trophy,
which is awarded to the highest scoring of the Victorian-grown
gold medal winning oils.
Camilo also produces infused oils with hints of chilli, garlic,
and even mandarin, as well as baked and pickled olives, and a
The family behind Camilo Olives is rightfully delighted that
they’ve achieved such success from the effort that they’ve put
into their property. “Suffice to say we are very proud, happy
and now running very hard to make sure that we meet our
customers’ needs, market demands, and make the most of
what has been a brilliant year,” says Joan.
If 2009 is anything to go by, the future holds only good things
for Camilo. With full production now underway, and the
company growing out of its youth, Camilo is sure to prosper,
Pictured: Joan McGovern (right) with daughter Anne. and head towards that fairy-tale ending.


Tablelands-based farmers
take out 2009 Conservation
Farmer of the Year Award
At the 2009 Conservation Agriculture and No-till Farming Association (CANFA)
conference dinner in Dubbo, the winner of the 2009 Conservation Farmer of the
Year Award was announced as being Murrumbidgee tablelands farmers, John and
Robyn Ive from Hall.

ABOVE: John and Robyn Ive with CANFA executive officer, Neville Gould and CANFA chair, Anne Williams, receiving the 2009 Conservation Farmer of the Year Award in

ne of the award judges, Ian Packer from the Lachlan Stubble maintenance and no till was high on the agenda to
Catchment Management Authority said that this year’s address soil structure, organic carbon and compaction,” he
group of eight regional finalists was very diverse, from said.
stock only through to cropping across every landscape and soil In accepting the award last night Mr Ive said that while being
type possible, from three regions within the catchments being focused on superfine wool production on their Yass Valley
the slopes, plains and tablelands. property, in order to achieve those ends they need to look after
The Central West, Lachlan, Murray and Murrumbidgee the land to the greatest extent possible.
catchment-based farmers were judged following nomination, “We believe that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage
with on-farm inspections by representatives of CANFA, the it.”
Catchment Management Authorities and the 2008 Receiving the award on his birthday, Mr Ive also won a
Conservation Farmer of the Year winner, Matt McKenzie. $5,000 GPS guidance system at conference, donated by GPS-
The Ives were selected from a group of three regional Ag. He made the comment at the dinner that he was not sure
winners who included: how the sheep would react to it.
• Slopes: Andrew and Delwyn Clifton, “Fairfield”, Corowa
For more information about the Conservation Farmer of the
• Plains: Tony and Tanya Wright, “Bundy Downs”, Peak Hill Year Award contact:
• Tablelands: John and Roby Ive, “Talaheni”, Hall Neville Gould
Mr Packer said they saw evidence of a vast array of Mob: 0427 452 488
innovative ways to reduce inputs, monitor systems, address Tel: 02 6845 1044 (CANFA office)
climate change and develop unique markets, and for all, soil Web:
health was a high priority.

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An answer to climate change
could be right under our feet.
Nature’s Way
Story: Georgie Oakeshott

When the McKellar family started farming at ‘Inveraray Downs’ in northern New
South Wales back in the 1960s, the cultivators turning the soil in preparation for
planting were continually being clogged by giant earthworms.


orty years on, those “three-foot worms” are long gone but sealed off zone which limited moisture penetrability of the soil,
a second generation McKellar is doing everything he can and the big heavy tractors were basically acting as
to get them back. Working overtime to restore soil fertility compactors.
and wishing he could start all over again, Cam McKellar regrets “Now under no-tillage farming the tractors are lightweight
the impact that traditional chemical farming has had on their and they use defined, controlled traffic lanes. We’re finding the
land. soil is more porous, stubble retains moisture and a lot of our
“Basically we stuffed it,” he says of the soil which went from earthworms have come back. They didn’t like the tillage.”
a healthy carbon level of three percent to under one percent in The achievements of these farmers on the Liverpool Plains
30 years. are something Primary Industries Committee member Tony
The turning point came in the 1990s when costs were Windsor (Member for New England, NSW) describes as cutting
spiralling out of control and, plagued by headaches from edge.
chemical herbicide, Cam McKellar began questioning the way “The farming community isn’t sitting around waiting for the
things were done and realised there was another, more climate to get drier,” Mr. Windsor says.
environmentally friendly way. “In fact the farming community already knows some of the
He turned to biological farming, which meant winding back answers to a lot of the problems and the political process has
the use of chemical fertilisers to restore the soil’s health. Not to go back to the grassroots and, rather than impose policy on
only has the soil improved but his plants are healthier, bushel them, actually ask some of these people how to get the
weights are higher and the end product is more nutritious. answers, because the answers are there.
“Biological farming is taking better care of your soil biology “Lifting carbon levels from two to three percent may not
and plant nutrition,” he says. While it’s taken 10 years, soil sound a lot but that’s a 50 percent increase in the amount of
carbon levels are improving, insecticides are hardly ever carbon being stored in the soil.
needed, fungicides are non-existent and the worms are coming “If you could improve the capture of carbon in our soils by 50
back. percent across the good soils in Australia or even the good
“We basically had to start from scratch but now we’re seeing soils in the world, there would not be any need for an
the results. The soil is totally different to what is was 10 years emissions trading scheme. We would have that problem
ago. It looks good, it smells good, and I’m enjoying farming solved,” Mr. Windsor says.
again.” Primary Industries Committee Chair, Dick Adams (Member
McKellar’s Spring Ridge property was recently visited by for Lyons, Tas) says there clearly needs to be more research
members of the House of Representatives Primary Industries and support for their findings.
Committee who came to the Liverpool Plains to meet farmers “I think we went out to save the world and environmental
at the leading edge of adaptations that could play a vital role for science became the sexy thing, but now some of that effort
agriculture as it deals with the impacts of climate change. needs to be put back into agriculture. We need to encourage
Cam McKellar believes increasing soil carbon levels has the people to look in these areas, to study these areas and get
potential to solve one of the nation’s biggest environmental degrees in these areas which are important for growing food
challenges. and fibre in Australia.”
“If we did this across western New South Wales we’d fix the At a public hearing in Canberra, committee members heard
Murray Darling system in a matter of five or 10 years. You from one of Australia’s leading soil scientists, Christine Jones,
would have your water cycle back to where it’s meant to be who believes soil carbon is the prime determinant of
and everything would be pretty sweet. I know that’s a big call agricultural productivity, landscape function and water quality.
but it would be lovely to see.” “In our never-ending quest for technological quick fixes we
Not far from Spring Ridge, Quirindi farmer David Wallis is also frequently overlook the obvious, the simplest and most
seeing the benefits of biological farming. effective solutions,” she told the hearing.
Faced with a 95 percent reduction in his water allocation and “Without doubt, increasing the level of carbon in agricultural
knowing that carbon increases the soil’s ability to hold water, soils is the most obvious, simple and effective solution to
David Wallis used biological farming techniques to increase his climate change. But we cannot increase soil carbon unless we
soil carbon levels from two to three percent, which is close to change farming methods,” she said.
the optimum level in these heavy black soils. The statistics speak for themselves. In little over 200 years of
“The biological principles change your thinking a bit,” he European settlement more than 70 percent of Australian
says. “It’s sometimes referred to as ‘soft’ farming. We don’t use agricultural land has become seriously degraded.
acid based fertilisers anymore. We actually spray nutrients on On average seven tonnes of topsoil is lost for every tonne of
that will feed the life in the soil to build up the bug life in the soil grain produced. At the same time there has been a reduction
which helps create nutrients for your plants.” of between 50 percent and 80 percent in the organic carbon
He told MPs that biological farming has improved both the content of surface soils.
health of the soil and the health of his plants. His lucerne is “Losses of carbon of this magnitude have immeasurable
now 80 percent ‘solid stem’ which is better and stronger than economic and environmental implications,” Dr Jones said.
the ‘hollow stem’ lucerne which used to dominate his crop. “Further, the carbon and water cycles are inextricably linked.
Breeza farmer Andrew Pursehouse is another Liverpool Humus holds approximately four times its own weight in water.
Plains innovator who has had to make changes to cope with a The most beneficial adaptation strategy for climate change
68 percent reduction in his water allocation. would therefore be one that focuses on increasing the levels of
Instead of cultivating the soil, he has adopted a no-tillage both carbon and water in the soils.”
technique on some parts of his property to conserve soil Warning that a fundamental redesign of food, fuel and
moisture, and it’s worked. Along with a few other adjustments, fertiliser production is vital to the survival and profitability of the
the no-tillage approach has helped achieve the equivalent of an Australian agricultural sector, Dr Jones said landholders are
additional six inches of rainfall per year. realising they need to change.
“The whole thing is a really wonderful story,” he says, “and if “I cannot tell you how many people at recent workshops
you combine legumes in there as well to provide organic have almost been in tears saying ‘we know we need to
nitrogen, it’s a wonderful system we now have in place. change, we desperately need information’. They’re ripe for
“These black soil plains have a tremendous water holding change,” she said.
capacity and in days gone by to eliminate weeds we farmed According to Dr Jones, the answer is based on a simple,
the land and cultivated the weeds. That was actually creating a natural process involving green plants which draw down

carbon from the atmosphere. This is then converted to stable plenty of foxes and feral cats around, I am seeing more and
soil carbon through microscopic organisms around the plants’ more bettongs all the time. I’m blown away every time I see
roots. one,” she said.
“All living things are made of carbon and the carbon cycle is Dr Jones told the committee the federal government could
the basis of all life on Earth. We need to learn how to properly fast track the adoption of innovative, productive farming
complete that cycle, how to draw down excess CO2 from the technologies through a proposed Green Agriculture
atmosphere and sequester it in a stable, life-supporting form in Stewardship Scheme (GASS).
the soil. The scheme proposes to provide incentive payments of
“The sequestration of CO2 requires a green plant. The $200 per hectare for the establishment of green agricultural
conversion of the liquid carbon in the plant to a stable soil sites to provide on-ground proof of resilient high quality
carbon requires a microbial bridge. Life in the soil cannot profitable agricultural production, active soil-building, carbon
flourish in the absence of green plants, nor can it tolerate a sequestration, biodiversity enhancement, improvements to
constant barrage of toxic chemicals.” landscape function and the aesthetic benefits of year-long
The reason many current land management systems are green farming techniques.
failing, she said, is because green plants are only present for Dr Jones said these sites would serve as design and
part of the year, with bare ground the remainder of the time. It’s innovation templates for expansion to other properties in their
vitally important that soil be covered with living plants in all designated region as well as nationally and internationally.
seasons, particularly summer. “As a result of the measured and publicised benefits of the
She believes perennial groundcover has multiple agricultural, stewardship scheme, it is anticipated that regenerative farming
ecosystem and landscape benefits, including erosion control techniques would be widely adopted throughout the
and combating weeds that colonise land when it’s empty. agricultural community, hence not requiring further government
Using a technique known as perennial cover cropping, funding other than an initial five year allocation.”
annual grain or fodder crops can be direct drilled into dormant Dr Jones told the committee that if there was government
perennial group cover with excellent results. support to encourage landholders to make some of these
In fact, she said, in 2007 the only grain harvested in the changes, there would be no valid reason for the Australian
Geraldton region in Western Australia was from crops sown agricultural sector to be a net emitter of CO2.
into pasture by the WA Department of Agriculture and Food. “It would require only a 0.5 percent increase in soil carbon on
“These crops yielded over a tonne per hectare when two percent of agricultural land to sequester all Australia’s
everyone else’s crops simply died. It was because the perennial emissions of carbon dioxide. That is, the annual emissions from
pasture had improved the soil and helped the ‘pasture crop’ all industrial, urban and transport sources could be
survive under extreme conditions.” sequestered in farmland soils if incentive was provided to
Another positive outcome of this ‘year-long green’ agriculture landholders for this to happen.”
has been an increase in biodiversity such as snakes, lizards, This may sound too good to be true, but if it is true, it’s one
birds, even marsupials like bettongs which feed on fungi and simple solution to save agriculture, the environment and the
earthworms. planet all at once. And all along it was right under our feet.
“We thought their absence was due to predators but it was For more information on the inquiry into farmers and the impact
actually due to lack of food supply and lack of habitat. Now we of climate change visit or email
have the year-round grass cover there, although there are still or phone (02) 6277 4500.

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off her appliances at the power point. If only she could switch off Mike’s snoring as easily. Visit to see what we can do for you.

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ith a focus firmly on growth opportunities in the wind helping local economies back home via major wind energy
energy market in Australia, Roaring 40s existing wind projects, like the Musselroe project in north-east Tasmania and
farms in Tasmania and South Australia will be Waterloo in the Clare Valley region of South Australia. These
complimented by further projects currently under various stages projects will provide valuable and much needed employment
of construction. Roaring 40s values reflect our mission to opportunities, as well as providing long term renewable energy
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not just creating energy solutions, we’re creating the future. contribution to the total farm income.
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With your help,
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w w w. r o a r i n g 4 0 s . c o m

Better Weather Ahead
More accurate weather forecasts will help
people who rely on them.
Story: James Nicholson

You would think the Bureau of Meteorology would be every
farmer’s best friend. For more than a hundred years, Australia’s
agricultural sector has relied, to a greater or lesser extent, on
essential information from the national weather forecaster.

he weather, and more to the point weather forecasting, methods and long-term predictions makes them a less than
plays a critical role in the strategic decision-making useful tool for agricultural farming systems within South
processes that drive Australia’s $47.5 billion agriculture Australia.
industry. “Agriculture has long called for the accurate long-range
Indeed, the bureau attracts a staggering nine billion hits a climate forecasting to improve decision making and risk
year to its website, and accounts for more than 45 per cent of management on-farm, but we now question if we are pursuing
all Australian government web traffic. the ‘holy grail’.”
But the current reality is that the friendship is being stretched The complex and highly technical science behind weather
in places. Frustrated by what too often turn out to be forecasting, and the innovation that drives continual
erroneous forecasts, farmers are asking serious questions of improvement in forecasting accuracy, are central to
the bureau and its capacity to deliver skilful, accurate seasonal decision-making across the economy, from the farming sector
predictions that can feed into key land-management decisions. to water resource management, the mining, construction,
A 2007 report based on data compiled by the bureau and the tourism and aviation industries, as well as emergency response
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry found that 76 management.
per cent of farmers considered forecasting not to be reliable, Alert to the far-reaching and potentially disastrous
and 73 per cent considered it not to be accurate. implications across multiple industry sectors of inadequate
As the South Australian Farmers Federation told the House weather prediction systems, the Minister for Innovation,
of Representatives Industry, Science and Innovation Committee Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, requested
earlier this year, “The lack of accuracy of the current modelling the committee to inquire into long-term meteorological

forecasting in Australia. useless, as the bureau’s acting chief climatologist Michael
The committee, chaired by Maria Vamvakinou Coughlan told the committee.
(Member for Calwell, Victoria), was asked to “By characterising the climate of the past and understanding
report on the efficacy of current climate again where you are now, you can go back to that record and
modelling methods and techniques, and extract similar occurrences of conditions like we have now,” Dr
long-term meteorological prediction systems, as Coughlan said. “If one can find those similar conditions in the
well as innovation in long-term forecasting past they can use that history of how the climate evolved from
methods and technology. It was also invited to those conditions to forecast conditions.
examine the impact of accurate measurement of “The problem we are experiencing now is we are seeing a
inter-season climate variability on very unstable climate regime or, to use the statistical term,
decision-making, potential applications for non-stationary climate….In other words we are experiencing
emergency response to natural disasters, and climatic conditions that are not well represented in the past.
systems and research in use overseas that could That then compromises our statistically based forecast.”
have application in Australia. CSIRO told the inquiry the existing seasonal forecasts for
“Weather plays a huge part in the lives of all Australia have “reached the summit of their ability”, while the
Australians,” Ms Vamvakinou said. “Even simple Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry described the
daily activities are determined by the weather, inaccuracy of current long-term meteorological forecasting as
and having access to accurate weather one of the great barriers to its wider adoption for
forecasting is essential.” decision-making among farmers.
“In particular, accurate long-term forecasting is “Current long-term meteorological forecasts are primarily
essential for many of our industry sectors, for based on averages taken from historical climate data,” the
example our agricultural industry. Without department’s submission said. “In light of the international
accurate long-term forecasting, the planting of scientific consensus that human activity is increasing
crops reliant on seasonal rains is a risky atmospheric carbon emissions and enhancing global warming,
business. ” scientists widely acknowledge that historical climate records
The committee has heard evidence from are no longer adequate predictors of future climate.”
farmers groups, state government departments, The alternative, emerging forecasting method into which
several individual scientists and some federal research and development investment is increasingly being
government agencies including the Department directed is what scientists term ‘dynamical modelling’. Here,
of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Land and forecasters model current conditions using the equations of
Water Australia and CSIRO. It also heard from motion and laws of physics to predict future conditions.
the Bureau of Meteorology, which bears The transition from statistical forecasting to dynamical
legislated responsibility for the collection of modelling has not yet eventuated, either internationally or at
meteorological data and the forecasting of home. But, according to the Centre for Australian Weather and
weather and the state of the atmosphere. That Climate Research’s deputy director Thomas Keenan, the latter
responsibility includes the issuing of warnings for technique has the capacity to provide a much more
severe weather associated with events likely to comprehensive data set and brings the hope of being able to
endanger life and property. deliver far more accurate predictions.
The bureau supports ongoing research in “In a statistical relationship you may focus just on
weather forecasting principally though its temperature or rainfall, but in these physically based models
partnership with CSIRO in the operation of the you can actually look at the soil moisture, the temperature, the
Centre for Australian Weather and Climate winds, the rain and have a much more comprehensive
Research (CAWCR). This unincorporated joint venture brings description,” Dr Keenan said. “That enables a much larger
together relevant research and development expertise from product set or information source to be available, apart from
both partners. improving the overall predictive skill that is obtained through
In its submission to the inquiry, the Bureau of Meteorology these types of techniques.”
noted the importance of meteorological forecasting and climate The committee has heard that research is underway to
modelling to Australia’s economic, environmental and social replace the all-but obsolete statistical forecasting methodology
wellbeing and prosperity. with the more current dynamic system upon which farmers and
“Australia’s location and size exposes it to a range of weather other users could better rely. CAWCR has been developing
extremes such as heatwaves, bushfires, cyclones, floods and successive versions of a dynamic modelling system for
storms. Predictions of weather and climate at timescales from seasonal forecasting called POAMA (Predictive Ocean
hours to days and across seasons can influence decisions that Atmosphere Model for Australia). The model has been used to
range from emergency management procedures and systems undertake experimental forecasts of sea surface conditions in
through to when or whether to plant particular crops,” the the Indian Ocean, which is believed to be an important driver of
bureau said. climate variability for Australia. According to the Bureau of
At the heart of the investigation into the adequacy and Meteorology, indications are that POAMA is better equipped
accuracy of current long-term forecasting methods is the reality than current statistical approaches to provide long-term
that seasonal weather forecasters find themselves caught in a forecasts.
hiatus between a traditional method of forecasting, which has The other major project to promise improved seasonal
become outdated and ineffective, and a new method which is forecasting is ACCESS (Australian Community Climate and
yet to be properly developed. Earth System Simulator) which is expected to deliver
Forecasters have traditionally based their predictions on improvements in the simulation of El Niño, the Indian Ocean
statistics gathered over time. Essentially, they collect variability, local weather phenomena and tropical processes.
observations about past or present conditions that influence Not withstanding this early promise, Land and Water
weather, and use those observations to predict meteorological Australia’s ‘managing climate variability’ program coordinator,
conditions into the future. The flaw with this ‘statistical method’ Colin Creighton, told the committee how the research agenda
is that it assumes previous weather and climate patterns will be could be progressed more quickly.
reliable indicators as to what might be expected in the future. “Obviously, more investment is needed,” Mr Creighton said.
Climate change, however, has rendered this method almost “We really do not have enough money for what we need to do.

Whether it is for emergency services or agriculture or whether it
is urban water authorities, it does not matter. Everyone is
looking for better forecasts with more certainty and longer lead
“Obviously, we need international collaboration. We cannot
do it alone. While I talk about an Australian system, we are
really talking about a global system. There is some good work
going on in Europe and India and so on. We must recognise
that this is long-term research. You do not get the results in
three years. It might take five years.
“Last but not least, as you will probably hear from others, we
need a new supercomputer every five or 10 years. That is the
reality of where we are going in much of this science.”
The broad benefit of improved seasonal forecasting and its
influence on decision-making was articulated in several of the
submissions, and by witnesses who appeared in person.
CSIRO listed a number of examples of how different sectors
used forecasting to inform specific decisions. They include
irrigation and cropping decisions affecting the use of irrigation
water; dry-land cropping decisions affecting sowing dates, the
area, variety and fertiliser application; emergency services
decisions affecting planning for likely extreme events; and
tourism decisions affecting the planning capacity and services
according to seasonal weather.
“Reliable seasonal forecasting has considerable potential to
deliver tangible benefits for forward planning and business The science of prediction
operations in agriculture and water resources, and other The Bureau of Meteorology refers to long-term meteorological
industry and government sectors and the broader community,” forecasting as “seasonal forecasting”, and defines it as forecasting
CSIRO noted. “Some benefit already exists but would be weather “from one to several months in advance”.
enhanced through improved seasonal forecasting, clarification Seasonal forecasting is distinct from short-term weather
and education about how to interpret and apply forecast
forecasting (hours to several days ahead), and from climate-scale
appropriately, and therefore increase user-confidence about
projections, which examine changes in climate on time-scales from
what seasonal forecasts do and don’t offer.
years to centuries.
“Better information about Australia’s potential future climate
is central to decision-making for individual enterprises and for Both weather forecasting and seasonal forecasting involve the
policy planning,” the department noted in its submission. collection of empirical observations about past and present weather
“Understanding climate variability at seasonal timescales, and conditions, which then form the basis for making a forecast of the
having relevant long-term meteorological forecasting tools, will future weather.
greatly assist risk management strategies at an enterprise Seasonal forecasting provides an assessment of the likely
level.” weather conditions average throughout a coming season, such as
The key for farmers is to know how much faith to pin on whether it is going to be drier or wetter than normal, hotter or
weather forecasts and to understand how best to use the colder.
information, according to Peter McIntosh, a principal research Like most types of predictions, seasonal weather forecasting is
scientist at CSIRO.
uncertain because it involves making a prediction about future
“The information has to be part of an overall risk
events within a complex system. Scientists are trying to work out
management system,” Dr McIntosh said. “They cannot take
how to improve the accuracy of forecasts by researching ways of
just that information and just decide to either plant or not plant
on the basis of that forecast. They might plant less area or they using sophisticated computer models and laws of physics to make
might delay planting or, if it was a dry year, they might plant a their predictions.
different variety that matures earlier—those sorts of decisions. According to CSIRO scientist Peter McIntosh, it is the ocean that
“They might decide to put less fertiliser on at the start, if the is the key to the longer time scale of the whole climate system,
forecast was bad, and delay it to top dressing and wait to see if upon which seasonal forecasts are based.
they got rainfall. There is a number of ways you can use the “The important thing is the sub-surface ocean temperature,” Dr
forecast information that is not black and white. The pay-off is McIntosh said. “That is the whole basis of seasonal forecasting:
in the long run. In any one year a forecast could be wrong and knowing that the ocean controls the long time-scale and knowing
a farmer could come unstuck. That is why I think they should something about the subsurface temperatures of the ocean.”
not follow the forecast only. They have to take a whole bunch Understanding of the ocean is enhanced by an international
of other things into consideration and just make slight changes
network of 3,300 ‘argo floats’, small robotic probes which are
based on the forecast.”
seeded planet-wide about 500 km apart and which float well below
And while some have described the attainment of accurate
seasonal forecasting capability as the ‘holy grail’, others have a the surface, recording important information about the ocean.
real hope that the research being undertaken through CAWCR Nevertheless, the task of interpreting these complex data and
will soon deliver dynamical seasonal forecasts that are translating them into seasonal weather forecasts remains a
substantially more accurate than what is currently available. thankless one—a reality which the Bureau of Meteorology points
For the struggling farmers and others who rely on accurate to with four short unattributed lines on its website:
long-term forecasting, those improvements can’t come fast “Many critics, no defenders,
enough.l Weather folk have two regrets.
For more information on the inquiry into long-term meteorology When they hit no one remembers,
forecasting, visit or email When they miss no one forgets!” or (02) 6277 4594


Carbon footprinting:
time to pick up the pace
By Tim Harford

Euan Murray grew up on a sheep farm in southern Scotland; now he is in charge of
“carbon footprinting” for corporate clients of the Carbon Trust. “If I ask my old man,
‘What’s the carbon footprint of a sheep?’ he looks at me as though I’m mad,” he
explains. “But he can tell me the stocking density, what he feeds the sheep, and he
can answer those questions as part of running his business.”

uite so. Carbon footprinting, the study of how much from a cappuccino, 10 billion times over.
carbon dioxide is released in the process of producing, In the case of the cappuccino—or at least, a typical, generic
consuming and disposing of a product, is all about the cappuccino—the climate change impact probably comes from
specifics. This is a refreshing change from the politics of the milk. I say “probably” because we don’t know for sure.
climate change, which is all about the generics. We Murray’s best guess was based on his work on milk chocolate.
hear promises from our leaders of big change Milk makes up one-third of a chocolate bar by mass, but is
in the future, without any credible plans responsible for two-thirds of the climate-change impact of the
right now. entire production and consumption process.
I first approached Murray to Switching to espresso might be in order; so, too, might a
ask him about the different diet for the cows. It is hard to make generic
climate change recommendations, though: even the particular soil on which
impact of a the grass grows on which the cows feed alters the climate
cappuccino. change calculus.
A year The carbon-footprinting process often produces surprises.
and An environmentally conscious consumer in the crisps aisle of
the supermarket will probably be thinking about packaging or
“food miles”. The Carbon Trust reckons that about one per
cent of the climate impact of a packet of crisps is from moving
potatoes around.
The largest single culprit is the production of the nitrogen
fertiliser, and half of the climate impact in general takes place
at the agricultural stage. The point is not that agriculture is
always the problem, but that it is very hard for a well-
meaning consumer to work out what the green
purchasing decision actually is.
For this reason, the Carbon Trust has a carbon
labelling scheme. The trouble is that many
consumers simply do not care enough to pay
more or choose a less enjoyable product
simply because of the low carbon label.
half A government role is necessary, then,
ago, I but it is even harder for governments
wrote about the to regulate such fine details. All this
question, pointing is why economists continue to
out that meeting any advocate some kind of carbon
of these grand targets price, which would give an
in a sensible way would incentive to everyone
require billions upon billions involved in these complex
of small decisions. supply chains to trim
The cappuccino’s climate carbon dioxide
change impact depends on whether emissions.
the café is double-glazed, the decisions A modest and
the staff and I take to get there, the diet of credible price for
the methane-producing cow that produced carbon is slowly
the milk and the source of power for the becoming the
espresso machine. conventional policy
Last week I pointed out that there are around 10 wisdom. It is a shame
billion products in a modern economy; that means we still don’t have it.
that the problem of reducing carbon dioxide emissions Also published at
is “simply” the problem of reducing carbon dioxide emissions


Learning for a Future
in the Bush
Building capacity for economic, environmental and social outcomes across
Australia’s vast rangelands – 75 percent of the land mass – is the aim of an exciting
educational initiative specifically designed to address widely perceived deficiencies
in tertiary education.

John Taylor receiving the
2009 Australian Rural
Education Award from
Emmy Terry, President of
SPERA, on behalf of the
Rangelands Australia team,
the Rangeland Champions
network and The University
of Queensland.

he Rangelands Management personal, enterprise and community issues facing regions, stronger
coursework program is exciting levels: leadership, and changing perceptions
because it offers improved access to • Personal benefits include greater of the value of higher education.
higher education, highly relevant courses capacity to represent rangeland This ground-breaking initiative is a
focusing on current and emerging issues, interests and advocate for enterprise product of Rangelands Australia, a centre
and strong growth in participation by 30- and regional outcomes; increased within The University of Queensland’s
50 year olds in this educationally options for self-employment and Gatton Campus. The centre recently won
disadvantaged region. diversification; increased options for the 2009 Australian Rural Education
The growth in enrolments of 650 career advancement and career Award, presented by the Society for
percent during the past three years is no changes; and greater awareness of Provision of Education in Rural Australia
accident. The development of the the critical issues facing rangeland (SPERA), in recognition of excellence in
program by Rangelands Australia has enterprises and regions. rural education, expansion of educational
been one of the most highly strategic • Enterprise-level benefits include lower opportunities, and efficiency and
knowledge and skill development costs and improved profitability; effectiveness of education.
initiatives in Australia. It has been enhanced land condition; better It is the first time this award has been
underpinned by surveys of knowledge management of trade-offs between conferred on a university-based
needs and gaps, research on learning production and conservation education initiative. In accepting the
preferences, engagement of hundreds of objectives; better decision-making award, Rangelands Australia director
stakeholders in guiding curriculum and and risk management; greater John Taylor acknowledged that the
course development, and innovative capacity for innovation and managing program’s success was a great
support for mature-aged students in change; and better management and testament to the benefits of strategic,
remote areas. retention of the next generation. participatory, student-centered and
The many benefits of this educational • Community benefits include greater demand-driven approaches to the
approach are now being realised at awareness of national and global provision of higher education.

Are you seeking … Yes, it’s different to other postgraduate
• Relevant and contemporary courses to coursework programs in many ways …
expand your knowledge and skills? • Program structure has been shaped by
• Solutions to current and emerging issues 450 stakeholders engaged in 24 focus groups
in the bush? across Australia
• Practical and up-to-date management • Course content and resources have been
information, and applying it to your enterprise influenced by over 250 experienced land
or region? managers, advisors, scientists, etc in
• A higher qualification to further your scoping, writing and review of the courses
career or influence? • Courses are practical and highly relevant to
• An interesting and different course workplace, business and people’s future
or two to finish your higher degree? • Involves industry and professionals in the
delivery of courses
Have you considered the Rangeland • Courses are aligned with industry, community
Management coursework program? and government priorities through a focus on
‘triple-bottom-line’ sustainability.
This practical and innovative program offers …
• Flexible entry – with or without a degree Rangeland-specific courses include …
• Some Commonwealth-supported places • Sustainable production systems and regions
• Study in external mode; from home, guided • Building effective stakeholder engagements
by experienced facilitators and stimulated by
• Global and national trends, local scenarios
interactions with people across Australia
• Diversification and new industries
• Study in intensive mode; meet with the
facilitator and fellow students at a week-long • Managing self, developing and retaining others
workshop in a local centre • Advanced rangeland ecology
• Study in a small group at a local centre over a • Property, catchment and regional planning
week in intensive mode • Grazing land management
• Out-of-hours support through a national • Rangeland monitoring and adaptive
network of Rangeland Champions management
• Nationally and internationally recognised • Rangeland pest animals, weeds and biosecurity
qualifications. • Animal nutrition and behaviour
• Animal wellbeing and health

For more information on courses and enrolment
Phone 07 5460 1660

Applications for enrolment close:
Semester 1, 2010 – 31 January 2010
Semester 2, 2010 – 30 June 2010

Visit our website for all the necessary forms

Proudly supported by

Dam Salinity
A report card on our risk and progress
By John Ive, Talaheni

Salinity is widely recognised as one of the more serious land degradation
processes that are affecting our agricultural lands—whether irrigated or dryland.
Likewise it is generally recognised that the cause of salinity is a discrepancy in the
water-balance equation, usually as a result of replacing deep-rooting perennial
vegetation with shallow-rooting annual crops and pastures that have been the
backbone of Australia’s agricultural scene for many decades.

he events that trigger increasing incidence of salinity can be identified. For properties where there is a close proximity between
separated in both time and space from the areas that are the casual areas and the affected areas, then landholders can take
affected. It may take many decades before saline water a similar approach with benefits to themselves and their near
tables rise sufficiently in response to widespread clearing of neighbors. Such is the case at Talaheni, a 245ha property in the
perennial vegetation to cause the visual blot on the landscape that Yass Valley on the Southern Tablelands (NSW). The Yass Valley has
signals reduced productivity and risk of secondary erosion. More long been recognised as a salinity hotspot gaining unflattering
telling is the separation in space where consequences of activities front-page headlines in the 1980s with: Yass the dryland salinity
undertaken in one area may turn up many kilometres away due to capital of New South Wales.
the quirky nature of complex geomorphology below the soil’s
By way of background, the area hosts tightly folded, but
surface. As a result, actions taken by individual landholders to
severely fractured multiple and diverse beds (slates, sandstones
combat salinity impacts on their properties may be unsuccessful
within a time frame acceptable to landholders and more tellingly, etc.) of Ordovician meta-sediments. The diverse characteristics of
benefits may be realised in a diffused and probably undetectable the sediment beds have, over geological time, resulted in
manner on distant properties. formation of strikingly different soil types in very short distances.
This has been the argument for agencies to adopt a whole-of- As a result rocky ridges bound variable slopes which in turn abut
catchment approach where studies are undertaken not only to deeper alluvial flats as shown in a stylised cross-section (Figure 1).
identify the hotspot sub-catchments but, with greater A traverse of such a cross-section covers a range of soil types,
understanding of the prevailing hydro-geological processes, areas each with distinctive physical characteristics that interact differently
contributing most to the catchment’s salinity hotspots can be with rainfall with subsequent consequences for salinity in the valley.


Figure 1: A typical cross-section of the Yass Valley reflecting the different soil types
associated with landscape position. Each soil type has its own unique characteristics
including infiltration rate and soil-water holding capacity. In general infiltration rate is
highest and soil-water holding capacity lowest in the landscape.

From the perspective of dryland salinity the important point of
the soils associated with such a transect is that infiltration rates
decrease and soil-water holding capacities increase as one moves
from ridge to flat. The stony ridges provide high infiltration rates
and an elevated hydraulic head yielding groundwater at pressure
to the lower flats. Consequently the ridges have low salinity risk
per se; and unfortunately little agricultural potential. Ironically the
risk generated by the ridges is ‘transported’ to the nearby much
more productive flats little by little depressing their productive
The crux to any management action is to monitor the response
to those actions. The old adage is: if you do not measure it you
cannot manage it. Normally salinity conditions are monitored via a
network of piezometers which allow water table levels to be
regularly measured and salinity of the water table assessed. Over
time, trends can be established in response to management
actions. However, the cost of installing a piezometer network is
Figure 2: Salinity levels of 38 farm dams (blue dots) which have been attributed to
significant and cannot be undertaken with normal farm equipment each dam’s catchment area as measured in March 2008. The highest salinity levels
and requires specific technical skills. An alternative may lay with (red) occur in the north, north-east sector. The salinity levels can be looked at in terms
the farm dams which dot the agricultural landscape. Such is the of current vegetation types (Fig. 6).
case on Talaheni where 38 dams are available to keep an eye on
salinity trends which give much wider coverage than the twelve
piezometers installed at significant cost.
The argument goes that dams can reflect the salinity status of
their respective catchments with salt content the combined result
of two main sources. Firstly, if a saline water table is closer to the
surface than the bottom of the dam then, depending upon dam
level and seepage rates, saline water will seep into the dam; the
closer the water table is to the soil surface the more seepage will
contribute to the dam’s stored contents. Secondly, evaporation
from saline seeps in the dam’s catchment leaves salt on the
surface which, when rain results in runoff, moves salty water to the
dam. Therefore the salinity of a dam’s water is a cocktail of the Figure 3: Change in salinity of the dam which, at the time of the first measurement,
salt-laden runoff and saline seepage from any elevated water had the highest salinity level. The decline in salinity level has averaged over 200 EC
units (μS/cm) per year over the past ten years at a relatively constant rate.
table. Periodic measurement of the salinity levels of farm dams can
give an insight into the trends in salinity across a property, indeed a Dam salinity measurements have been taken on Talaheni since
group of properties and also differentiate dam catchments on their 25th December 2000 which spans an extended period of below
salinity status. Because of the seasonal nature of rainfall, average rainfall conditions which started its downturn in December
monitoring dam salinity levels is best undertaken at a similar time 2000. Choosing the dam which initially had the highest salinity
of the year. level and tracing its fate over the period shows an impressive and
Given annual average evaporation from a farm dam in the Yass consistent decline in salinity levels at an average rate of over 200
region is about 1700mm per year – that is, about the third of the EC units per year (R2= -0.938, Figure 3) and now compares
depth (and half the volume) of an average farm dam, the salt favorably with Canberra’s domestic water supply which is currently
concentration in the dam increases over time with ongoing 85 EC units. Given the strength of the relationship (Figure 3) the
evaporation. In the absence of any runoff the salt concentration of salinity level of the dam prior to commencing remedial action in
a little-used dam would double in a year. As the dam fills, the salt 1980 could arguably have been over 6000 EC units; this would be
concentration is diluted although more salt would be received with consistent with the extent of dryland salinity symptoms apparent at
the incoming runoff. Once full, further runoff will lead to some the time (e.g. saline seeps occupied 23 per cent of Talaheni, now
flushing with increasingly less saline runoff. However, in drought less than one per cent) and the water table decline since 1990
periods runoff declines and dam overflow becomes a rare event. when direct weekly measurements commenced. For comparison,
Therefore during dry periods one would expect salinity levels to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) preferred upper limit for
increase during periods of below average rainfall due to ongoing human consumption is 800 EC units and sea water is 54 500 EC
elevated evaporation rate combined with relatively salt laden units.
although limited inflows and reduced opportunity for flushing. The decline in the dam’s salinity level is seen as a particularly
Simultaneously however, drought conditions reduce recharge, and significant response to the ameliorative actions taken to address
the water table declines with subsequent reduction in salt dryland salinity, as the decline has been achieved during a
accumulation at the surface as seeps recede. Additionally a lower prolonged dry period during which salinity levels of farm dams
water table reduces the opportunity for saline seepage into dams. would be normally expected to increase due to higher evaporation

and reduced inflows. Indeed the catchment of this dam includes
the area where work was initially started in 1988 to address salinity
with the planting of four hectares of the high recharge ridge to
native trees and reinvigorating declining exotic perennial pastures
on the flats by landscape fencing to allow better grazing
management and strategic use of fertiliser to foster greater pasture
vigour and production. Furthermore, the trend shown by this dam
is consistent with the average trend across all dams (Figure 4),
although the average trend is, by definition, not nearly so dramatic
viz., 36 compared to 212 EC units per year, reflecting the greater
annual decline in salinity levels for dams with the highest initial
salinity level. Consequently salinity levels of all dams are now
significantly below the WHO upper limit.

Figure 4: The mean salinity response of the 38 dams on Talaheni over the past ten
years which has seen an average decline of 36 EC units per year R2= -0.849). Figure 5: SPOT5 image of Talaheni reflecting tree coverage, primarily on central ridge
which has high recharge potential; and the mosaic of different vegetation types which
Each dot (Figure 4) represents the average of the thirty-eight can be interpreted from Figure 6.
individual dam measurements and gives an overview of the decline
in salinity. The fact that salinity levels of dams have declined
relatively consistently during the extended dry period is seen as
evidence collaborating with the decline in depth to and salinity of
the water table as recorded by weekly measurement since 1990
from a network of piezometers.
Returning to spatial variation in salinity levels across Talaheni
(Figure 2) and attributing the salinity level of each dam to its
catchment, it is obvious that the northern portion of Talaheni is
expressing higher salinity levels in the farm dams than the
southern area with a secondary pattern of dams higher in the
landscape having lower salinity levels than their lower counterparts
– reflecting in part the reduced opportunity for sub-surface
seepage into such dams. The salinity map can be compared with
the SPOT5 image (Figure 5) and the farm plan land use map
(Figure 6) which show the distribution of various forms of
vegetation which have been chosen in accordance with soil and
landscape characteristics.
Interestingly for the majority of the piezometers, the water level
is lower than the bottom of the piezometer so it is no longer
possible to monitor the water table and therefore keep an eye on
the salinity situation; on the other hand all dams continue to hold
water and to receive sporadic inflows when rainfall permits thereby
offering an ongoing opportunity to continue to track the response
to dryland salinity management.
Dryland salinity management has included the establishment of
trees on the high recharge areas where soil characteristics
(particularly soil-water holding capacity) were an anathema to the
establishment and persistence of vigorous perennial pasture. Tree Figure 6: Current farm plan reflecting fencing pattern based on soil and landscape
characteristics and the different vegetation types which have been tailored to these
establishment has involved grazing management during dry and characteristics.
subsequent favourable rainfall periods where seed trees remained
and planting tubestock in areas lacking seed trees. Exotic From the evidence gathered over the past ten years, farms
perennial pastures have been established on flats and lower dams have provided a means of keeping a track on the response
slopes, areas often reclaimed from severe salinity conditions. The to managing dryland salinity providing an ongoing report card of
selection of appropriate vegetation and its management has been encouraging success. Over the same period nearly all of the
assisted by the refencing of Talaheni on major soil and landscape piezometers installed for monitoring progress have progressively
characteristics (Figure 2) with fences often closely coinciding with gone dry in response to below average rainfall and provide no
dam sub catchment boundaries which assists in identifying and insight to the improved salinity situation over the past ten years.
targeting management appropriate to the sub catchment. Contact the author:


Back, Better Than Ever

he expanded Defender model range is now available in
Australia, with a number of new derivatives that cater for
both lifestyle and commercial buyers. The 09MY Defender
model line up now includes five 110 wheelbase and three 130
wheelbase variants, offering features that apply to off road
users or heavy duty payload seekers.
With the new expanded Defender range Land Rover now
presents users with a strong and highly differentiated alternative
for the heavy duty 4WD pickup sector: permanent 4WD, two
wheelbase offerings, efficient 2.4 litre common rail engine, six
speed manual transmission and use of alloy body panels.
Defender dates back to 1948 when the Land Rover Series 1
was launched. In the sixty one years since its launch, Defender
has developed an iconic profile and has become the authentic
vehicle of choice for extreme conditions. Almost 1.9 million
units have been sold to retail customers, utility service
providers, armed forces and NGOs in over 100 countries.
Defender customers worldwide value its legendary strength, • 130 Crew Cab HCPU (High Capacity Pick Up)
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• 110 Single Cab Chassis Land Rover is immensely proud of Defender’s reputation for
• 110 Single Cab Chassis HCPU (High Capacity Pick Up) off-road supremacy and dependability, it will get you there and
• 110 Hard Top back, regardless of climate or terrain. Now with this extended
• 110 Crew Cab Pick Up range, Defender offers even more specialised variants to better
• 130 Single Cab Chassis suit the off road and load carrying requirements of its
• 130 Crew Cab Chassis customers.


The PullzAll is the extra
hand you need
If you’re out the back
paddock and your fence is
falling down.
If your trailer needs a tow
in Tamworth.
If you are welding in
Wagga Wagga.
If you just need another
set of hands to pull you
through the day – The
PullzAll is for you.

onvenient, portable and easy to use, it is an ideal
weapon in keep in your arsenal. The PullzAll can lift
or pull up to 454 kilos, making light work of heavy
jobs. This tool will replace manual winches and chain
blocks. It is in essence the modern day electrical block
and tackle. The PullzAll is perfectly suited to the work of
farmers, mechanics and labourers everywhere.
Fencing. Welding. Lifting. Pulling. You can do it all
The PullzAll is available in two models, a 24V cordless
with rechargeable battery pack and a standard 230V AC
corded model. Supplied with 4.5M of 5.5MM wire rope,
the PullzAll features one touch forward/ reverse modes,
rear swivelling anchor hook, variable speed control for
procession placement and electronic load limiter with
LED indicator for operator feedback. The cordless
PullzAll weighs 8.2Kg and comes packaged with
charger and spare 24V rechargeable battery, while the
corded PullzAll weighs just 7Kg and runs on standard 230V AC of work just one man can do. Its uses range from construction,
power. Both models are capable of lifting or moving up to iron work, auto shops, equipment and plant maintenance,
454Kg. machine shops, garages and pipe fitting to erecting and
The PullzAll can make a tremendous difference in the amount maintain fencing, moving or disassembling heavy machinery or
simply loading and unloading heavy equipment.
The PullzAl is especially easy to set up and use. Simply
attach the anchor hook to your chosen mount point, unspool
the wire rope using the hook strap for safety and attach to your
load. Select either variable speed mode for short distance
pulling for fine positioning or full speed mode for long distance
The PullzAll is generating a lot of buzz in retail circles,
undertaking a national television advertising campaign and now
stocked at Mitre 10 stores. The PullzAll takes the labour out of
every lifting job you can think of. Manufactured by Warn
Winches, who are regarded worldwide as the best winch brand
on the market, the PullzAll is supported by Ateco through its
Australia wide distribution network for sales and parts support.
For more information visit or
call 1 300 669 951 if you are interesting in stocking the PullzAll.


Those back breaking days are over. With new PullzAll™ where you want it. And for flexibility, PullzAll™ comes
you now have a portable, handheld power machine in corded or cordless models with an extra battery.
weighing only 7kg*, that is designed to pull, lift, haul The new lightweight PullzAll™ has real pulling power.
or drag up to 450 kilos at the flick of a switch. The only thing you have to weigh up is how many jobs

PullzAll™ is a one man workforce, equipped with a it can tackle. *Corded model

4.5 metre wire rope and a variable speed trigger for Check withenquiries
Wholesale your local hardware or tool supplier or
precise control. It features an integrated directional
WWWPULLZALLCOMAUsphone 1300 669 951

switch that enables you to instantly change direction,
giving you the ability to stop and hold a load exactly


Life on the Land just got easier
thanks to Century Batteries
Century’s Ultra Hi Performance Severe Service battery represents the latest in
performance and reliability for trucks, farm and heavy equipment.

nlike many imported batteries which
are designed for European markets
and colder climates, Century’s Ultra
Hi Performance Severe Service battery is
made here in Australia for our conditions.
It features many substantial design
improvements to deliver what heavy
equipment and plant operators really
want, longer life and ultra reliability with
less down time.
Designed for more than just starting
power, the Ultra Hi Performance Severe
Service battery can sustain constant
current loads to power on-board
Thicker, more durable components
provide improved corrosion resistance,
reduced water loss and longer battery life
whilst Century’s exclusive Platelock™
design and specialist Glass Mat
separators, bind the battery plates
securely together to resist the effects of
vibration damage and help prevent early
battery failure.
Backed by a fully comprehensive 18
month nationwide warranty, the Ultra Hi
Performance Severe Service battery
features a built in easy to read water
indicator to quickly determine fluid levels
whilst the maintainable design enables
easy access to top up electrolyte levels
for maximum control over battery life.
In today’s competitive world of
batteries one name is synonymous with
quality, durability and reliability—Century
Century batteries have been
manufacturing and designing batteries
here in Australia since 1928 and in this
time have developed the engineering and
manufacturing expertise to produce a
range of superior quality batteries better
suited to Australia’s harsh climate and
extreme working environment.
Not all batteries are created equal—
Choose a Century Ultra Hi Performance
Severe Service battery and see why it’s
earned the trust of Australians on the
For more information on the Century
Severe Service Battery and the complete
Ultra Hi Performance range call 1300 362
287 or visit


Rollerdown for better barley,
canola harvesting
hillbourne offered the market a new
style of pickup during 2005.
Rollerdown is a name coined to
describe the mechanised hold down. It
has now become a byword for better
harvesting canola and barley. In
December, it had about 300 Rollerdown
units working in Australia. Phillbourne no
longer sells the older style units. It is sold
as a triple package of pickup, falsefront
and Rollerdown that combined as one
unit usually matched to a particular
Two other ways to buy Rollerdown are
as kit to add to older-style machines, or
as a conversion of an older-style pickup.
The Conversion is getting popular and
Phillbourne can convert an older machine
for about one third of the cost of a new
Trio. Phillbourne has a policy of
continuous improvement. Its latest
success has been the introduction of Phillbourne now offers heavy duty fuel For further information contact:
rubber coated drive rollers. They reduce trailers with steel tanks, regulation lights Phillbourne Manufacturing
belt slippage which increases the and brakes etc. Sizes are 2000L and Tel: (08) 9041 2066
harvesting window in awkward 4000L and these are available with or Fax: (08) 9041 2073
conditions. without pumping equipment.

know the road ahead

Visit our website and access latest releases and reports,
ABARE surveys, download data, register for conferences
or contact ABARE for more information
on +61 2 6272 2010 or

Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics

The only thing more impressive
than John Deere equipment?

The people standing behind it.
When you buy a piece of John Deere equipment there are many
features, options and extras to help increase your productivity and
Professional support from the John Deere dealer network. Our Parts
Distribution Centre houses over 85,000 lines; available to be shipped
24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, our network of 207
dealerships have an extensive range of maintenance parts in stock,
at your disposal. All our equipment is fully supported by one of the
broadest dealer networks in the agricultural business, so advice,
parts and service are all readily available when needed. 1800 800 981 |

John Deere announces new equipment name
and numbering system

hat’s in a name? Quite a bit actually – especially when
it comes to tractors. John Deere announces it’s
currently transitioning to a new name and number
system for its full line of tractors with the introduction of the new
5D, 5E, 5M, and 6D Series Tractors.
“The updated name and numbering system is unique to John
Deere and allows for a more consistent approach to naming our
equipment around the world,” says Kevin Platz, John Deere
Strategic Marketing. “This new system allows customers to
more quickly and easily identify the engine horsepower of a
tractor, its capability, and its size by looking at the hood decal,”
Platz adds.
Each new tractor model number has six available positions.
The first position is a number and represents its size. The
second, third, and fourth positions are numbers and denote its
relative metric engine horsepower according to 97/68/EC This new system does away with the word thousand in the
Standards. The fifth position is a letter and indicates its series title. The name and numbering switch will not be
capability and/or price level within its family. immediate for all John Deere tractors. Instead it will be phased
in over time when new product families are introduced.
6 1 1 5 D -
For more information, visit our website at
Capability, Specific or FREECALL 1800 800 981 in Australia
Size Engine Horsepower
price level configuration
to contact your local John Deere dealer.


Water is tomorrow’s Gold
The cool waters are setting people’s hearts on fire. Water is slowly and steadily
climbing up the trading charts and the government is slowly buying up water
trading licences whilst placing an embargo on issuing new licences.

here is a reason for that: water is a scarce and vital The Council of Australian Governments, when endorsing in
commodity. The people left with the licenses are now 1994 a strategic framework for the efficient and sustainable
sitting on gold and you know how gold prices are at the reforms of the water industry, specifically required the Murray-
moment. Darling Basin Ministerial Council to put in place: ‘arrangements
In September 2009, hundreds of water trades in Victoria so that out of charges for water, funds for the future
were allowed after a 10 per cent cap on entitlements was maintenance, refurbishment and/or updgrading of the
officially granted. headworks and other structures under the Commission’s
Victorian Water Minister Tim Holding says removing the cap control be provided.’
on non-water users will give irrigators greater choice.”It also In response to these various drivers, the Ministerial Council
frees up water to be purchased from sellers as part of the
decided that a ‘water business’ should be established with the
Australian Government’s buyback program to return water to
the Murray River for the benefit of the environment,’’ he said in
“In accordance with the Council of Australian Governments
a release.
water resource policy and Murray-Darling Basin Commission
The cap on the volume of water entitlements that can be
owned by non-landowners had been in place since 2007. The policies, to contract with each owner of the water to provide a
10 per cent restriction had existed to ease concerns that big delivery service which generates adequate revenue to allow
corporate clients would gobble up vast amounts of water and effective maintenance and long term replacement/creation of
control the market price. assets and the move towards a positive real rate of return in
accordance with a timetable agreed with the owners of the
How River Murray Water came about business.”
From the mid-1990s, a number of factors have been Following developmental work by an advisory committee,
influencing Australian water authorities to create more River Murray Water was established on 1 January 1998 as an
business-like arrangements for water delivery services. The two internal business unit of the Commission. A Board operating as
most important factors are: a committee of commission guides the activities of River
Separating service delivery from regulatory and resource Murray Water.
management policy matters so as to achieve clear and
effective outcomes; and Further information:
Putting pricing for services on a clear basis which removes •
cross-subsidies, promotes efficiencies, and ensures •
sustainability of the assets of the business through full cost catchments/uppermurraybasin
recovery. •


It’s okay to ask
for help…
It’s okay
to ask for

Call Mensline Australia for help and
information about:

ensLine Australia has supplied telephone support to
• Difficult situations at work
rural men since the drought began, through the
• Changes in relationships
recent fires, floods, and the global financial crisis. The
pressures have been, and continue to be considerable. We • Being a good father
recognise the cost to family, community and livelihood of men • Dealing with separation
being out of sorts and respond to them day or night • Coaching and counselling.
throughout the year. We have a call-back service to support
Talk it over with specialist professional
people over time, ideal for those too far from other services or
waiting for an appointment.
counsellors, 24 hours a day,
Every month roughly 4000 men call MensLine Australia, seven days a week for the cost of a
mainly to discuss relationship and family matters. The service local call.
was designed for and about men and their issues, the popular website provides up to date
information and tips on subjects like managing separation,
1300 78 99 78
dealing with anger, unwanted pregnancy, first time dads etc.
and the web forums help men speak to others in similar
MensLine Australia provides a no-blame, no-shame ear, as
well as additional information and referral options. Stop
problems becoming a crisis and pick up the phone.
The cost of a local call provides a professional, totally
confidential and anonymous safe place to ‘talk it over’. It’s
okay to ask for help ... don’t let isolation get the better of you;
A service managed by Crisis Support Services Inc.
break the silence and call MensLine Australia.
MensLine Australia is a joint venture of Department of
Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
(FaHCSIA) and Crisis Support Services Inc (CSS). CSS also
manages a number of other services including beyondblue Info
Line, SuicideLine (Victoria), and Suicide Call Back Service.


Bruce McGregor, National Rural Manager, First National Real Estate

Stock and Station in the blood
aised in the small town of Woodenbong, right on independent and franchise agents face the necessity to
the Queensland border, Bruce McGregor has embrace technology as one of the fundamental, new
experienced the ongoing change of rural and competitive arenas of the business. Superior systems
regional agency over many years. combined with Best Practice Quality Assurance and
Bruce’s earliest memories are of the mid-fifties cattle Search Engine Optimisation is seen as a winning
sales at Woodenbong saleyards and his excitement for combination that will assure that First National’s agents
and interest in the saleyards and stock sales has continue to deliver the best property services available in
remained a life-long passion. He commenced work as Australia.
junior in 1968 with Reg Lehman and Sons in Kyogle ‘The network is positioning itself for growth through a
before joining Elders’ Goldsborough Mort for service in completely re-built suite of technology, products and
Grafton Forbes Bourke Dubbo and Mudgee branches. services. This, combined with a totally refreshed brand
That experience provided a foundation for a career will increase the network’s exposure across rural and
based in rural property marketing across central NSW, metropolitan Australia. Its industry leading technology
specialisation in auction marketing and support services and national referral network, combined with the
for regionally based agents. independent skills and local knowledge of agents at the
Bruce now works for First National Real Estate, a real farm doorstep, gives the network a leading edge’ says
estate cooperative that was founded in country Victoria McGregor.
in the early 1980s and now boasts some 500 members ‘First National is committed to building its already
across Australia and New Zealand. His role as National substantial presence in rural Australia, so, I’m actively
Rural Manager involves the development of the seeking to recruit quality rural agencies. Our technology
network’s rural chapter, working with far-flung members advancements will help insure we provide not only up to
to ensure their needs are heard, and the recruitment of the minute market advice to vendors, but also a
new rural estate agencies. comprehensive service to provide property details and
The network has spent recent years rebuilding itself, in regular contact with potential buyers and investors
preparation for the opportunities that lie ahead as seeking rural property’.

Thousands of rural properties
Thousands of properties
One great address
One great address
Offering a broad range of rural properties, as well as:

Local knowledge, national strength.
Choose First National to buy or sell your rural property.

Carbon Credits, Sustainability,
Climate Change – Green Issues Abound
The rural property market, like most real estate markets, traditionally moves in
cycles of seven to ten years, with positive growth historically occurring over the
longer cycle. However, its values are additionally influenced by a wide range of
factors encompassing commodity prices, economic conditions and seasonal
climates. These variances make it difficult to forecast national trends.

ustralians are being bombarded with a multitude of health and safety protocols will be necessary. Water supply and
opinions, reports and ‘expert’ predictions concerning its usage will only become more contentious.
environmental issues as the information age makes global Around the world there is significant and growing support for
research and information instantly available to everyone. action to address climate change. First National believes a
In a recent survey, 90 per cent of the Australia’s CEO’s majority of Australians want to see action from government, but
admitted they did not fully understand the potential impact of remain uncertain about how and where they can contribute to
the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) on their business, so it’s change in their own domain.
perhaps not surprising that estate agents and their customers First National has determined it can play a role by educating
may struggle to appreciate the potential effect of environmental the thousands of people it comes in contact with through its
issues on the property market. property services every day of the week. Forging an alliance
First National Real Estate has little doubt that the changes in with Greening Australia and Archicentre, it has developed a
rural enterprise, as a result of altered environmental series of educational materials that help improve energy
circumstances, will influence property management, values, efficiency in homes and is encouraging consumers to plan
livestock husbandry, farming and irrigation practises which will, native gardens in an effort to help the unique Australian
in turn, drive and direct the level of market activity for all types environment and to reduce water consumption.
of rural enterprises. The one certainty in this overall landscape is that Australian
Farmers will need to endeavour to improve the value of their ingenuity will come to the fore and environmental challenges will
assets while developing management protocols to meet with be addressed.
community expectations and government directives. The value of rural enterprise land will continue to grow as the
Maximising capital growth will require long-term planning of world endeavours to feed a rapidly burgeoning population from
farm management practices and comprehensive record farmland, which will remain under pressure from expanding
keeping. urban areas and mining interests. Australia will be competitive in
Environmental matters such as toxicity, chemical usage and providing rural commodities and traditional farming families will
land management cannot be ignored and improved continue to be underwritten by investment interests both locally
infrastructure for animal husbandry as well as occupational and internationally.



Using technology
to save water
By Dennis O’Brien, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.

With climate change expected to raise temperatures worldwide and make
rainfall patterns harder to predict, pressure is mounting on farmers—who
use up to 60 percent of the world’s fresh water—to cut back on water use.
Nowhere is the US water supply a more severe problem than in the
Southwest, where droughts are common, reservoirs are closely monitored,
and population growth is increasing demand. 

Visiting University of Arizona research specialist Patrick Royer
(foreground) records the water advance time in a cotton furrow while
ARS physical science technician Dick Simer measures the furrow water
depth. The data is used to estimate the actual amount of irrigation water
that infiltrates at sections along the cotton furrow.


RS scientists in the Southwest are developing tools and Space Administration satellites, and data from ground-
aimed at saving every possible drop with the help of based SNOTEL sensors in 11 western states to measure water
satellite data, computer models, remote sensing, and levels. Information is transmitted to relay stations and posted
other technologies. At the Arid-Land Agricultural Research by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Center in Maricopa, Arizona, Doug Hunsaker is developing a online at
sensor system that can determine the water needs of small
clusters of crops. And at the Jornada Experimental Range in Rango and his team will install 5 new gauges in the NRCS
Las Cruces, New Mexico, Al Rango is beefing up computer SNOTEL sensor network and upgrade 12 others, all in New
models and the network of sensors scattered throughout the Mexico, to improve runoff forecasts from snowpack. Rango’s
Rocky Mountains that help forecast runoff into the Rio Grande, research should help farmers decide which crops to plant and
a crucial water source for farmers in Colorado, New Mexico, when to plant them. It will also help public officials decide how
Texas, and Mexico. reservoirs should be operated, whether reservoir water should
be stored or released, how much water should be used to
Impact of Altered Snowmelt generate electrical power, how flood-control measures can be
The Rio Grande gets more than half of its water from snow implemented, and how much water should be reserved to save
melting off the Rockies in southern Colorado and northern New endangered species.
Mexico, a region where population growth is straining water “Change in timing and quantity of runoff is something water-
supplies. Climate change is expected to diminish those management agencies need to know. They don’t know what
snowpacks and alter when water flows from them into rivers, the effects on the water resources will be, and they need to
says Rango, a hydrologist. know because water-management policies may have to
Snow starts melting in the New Mexico mountains in late change,” Rango says.
March and continues until late August. But climate change
could disrupt that cycle. Temperatures in New Mexico have Tracking Water on Small Parcels
increased about 2˚C in summer and about 1˚C in winter over Traditionally, farmers irrigate by the calendar, but that can be
the past 10 or 20 years. That rise is expected to continue, wasteful—at times giving crops more water than they need.
producing earlier snowmelt and altering when water becomes But Doug Hunsaker is using an assortment of remote-sensing
available for crops grown in the Rio Grande basin, such as technologies—sensors mounted on tractors or planted in the
cotton, onions, chillies, and pecans, Rango says. soil, along with an unmanned aerial vehicle and an occasional
With climate change expected to alter snowmelt patterns, helicopter flight—to find ways of conserving water by
researchers need better information. Rango is a principal estimating crop needs at specific sections within fields, rather
investigator for part of a 5-year National Science Foundation than assuming those needs are the same in all sections of the
project that will help states collect better data on water field.
supplies and help scientists better understand the effects of Hunsaker is testing a tractor-mounted visible and near-
climate change on water supplies in the Southwest. Research infrared sensor on small fields of cotton and wheat. The
is also being conducted by New Mexico State University, New sensors, initially designed to detect nitrogen levels in soils, use
Mexico Tech in Socorro, and the University of New Mexico in red and near-infrared signals to estimate evapotranspiration—
Albuquerque as part of the project. the amount of water transpired from a plant plus that
Rango and his colleagues have spent 30 years predicting evaporated from the soil. The sensors take readings as the
snowmelt runoff levels with a computer model he developed in tractor goes up and down the field during cultivation. They look
the late 1970s and has been upgrading ever since. His and work like small cameras and are equipped with a global
Snowmelt Runoff Model (SRM) uses climate-change positioning system so they can give a precise reading of the
algorithms, imagery of snowpacks from National Aeronautics location where the data was collected.

Agricultural engineer Doug Hunsaker performs precise irrigation scheduling of cotton at the Maricopa Agricultural Center in Arizona.

In Hunsaker’s system, data on soil moisture levels and water threshold, we know it’s time to water, and we know how much
use by plants—collected from the tractor-mounted and it needs. We’re able to monitor with a kind of a ‘chequebook’
ground-based sensors—would ultimately be tied into data approach,” he says.
beamed from satellites.
The research is part of Pasture, Forage, and Range Land
Hunsaker is also using remote-sensing data collected from Systems (#215) and Water Availability and Watershed
an unmanned aircraft—on loan from the University of Arizona— Management (#211), two ARS programs described on the World
that provides additional information on crop water use as it flies Wide Web at
over a field. Helicopter flights, made once every two weeks as
To reach scientists featured in this article, contact Dennis O’Brien,
part of Hunsaker’s fieldwork, also provide complete remote-,or USDA-ARS Information Staff,
sensing images of the entire field. Data collected by the
helicopter flights is a proxy for information that will one day be
collected by satellites.
“As technology improves, satellites will be able to do what
we now do with helicopters so that farmers will be using
satellite imagery to determine water needs,” Hunsaker says. He
has used the technology to study the water needs of camelina
and lesquerella, two oilseed crops, but has focused mostly on
small fields of cotton and wheat. He is currently testing the
technology’s effectiveness at determining actual soil moisture
levels and growth rates in a 12-acre cotton field, divided into
16 plots, and he plans tests in a wheat field of comparable size
in 2010.
Farmers are already using remote-sensing technology to
monitor crops and field conditions, but the goal is a new
system capable of collecting data that farmers can use to
determine daily water needs of smaller field sections. Ideally,
farmers could identify areas with low or high water needs and,
using either a drip or a sprinkler system, adjust irrigation levels
based on the data.
Hunsaker compares the system to keeping a checkbook of
each plant’s water needs. “There’s a reservoir of water in the
soil. Each day it’s depleted by the plant, and we’re keeping Before takeoff, physical scientist Andrew French prepares camera equipment for
track of that. Once the water amount reaches a certain airborne multispectral imaging. The data collected is used to estimate crop water

Hydrologist Al Rango (foreground) and former postdoctoral research associate
Enrique Gomez-Landesa evaluate output from predictive models of water runoff
into the Upper Rio Grande basin.

View of cotton field from helicopter showing reflectance tarps used in calibrating Physical scientist Tom Clarke aligns ARS-designed radiometers for monitoring
multispectral imagery equipment. cotton growth. The radiometer clusters are installed in a digital network that is a
low-cost way to deliver real-time crop information over the Internet.


Management of irrigation
water storages: carryover
rights and capacity sharing
By Neal Hughes and Tim Goesch ABARE research report

This article is a summary of the full report and represents the first part of a two part project investigating the management of irrigation water
storages. The report focuses on the economics of storage management and the potential advantages of a capacity sharing approach. The
second part of this project examines in detail two capacity sharing schemes implemented in Queensland – St George and MacIntyre Brook. The
results of the second part of the project are presented in a subsequent ABARE research report: Capacity sharing in the St George and MacIntyre
Brook irrigation schemes in southern Queensland. For further information about the full version of both of these reports, visit:

Water storage management what proportion of available water to store for the future (and
Water storages (reservoirs) play a vital role in the supply of how much to consume now) is a complex problem given the
water for irrigation farms. Storages smooth variation in the presence of substantial uncertainty over future inflows and
supply of water and in the value of water over time. Appropriate water demands.
management of water storages is particularly important in
Australia, given the extreme variability of inflows and Centralised storage management
predictions of lower and more variable inflows within the For a centralised storage management policy to achieve an
Murray-Darling Basin because of climate change. efficient allocation of water across time and across irrigators, a
The management of irrigation water storages involves number of conditions must be met. First, the dam manager
comparison of the benefits of consuming water today against requires complete information on the water needs of irrigators.
the expected benefits of storing water for future use. In Second, trade in water allocations must be efficient and
Australia, state governments have traditionally centrally costless. Under these conditions, the optimal aggregate
managed the major water storages, making decisions on water amount of water would be released each period and this would
allocations (water released for consumption in the current be efficiently allocated across individual irrigators via trade in
period) given prevailing storage levels. However, determining water allocations.

In practice, these conditions may not be met and a on the Murrumbidgee region in New South Wales. Although the
centralised approach may lead to an inefficient allocation of case study is intended to be illustrative in nature, the results
water. In particular there may be asymmetric information presented in this report are intended to be broadly applicable
between the storage manager and irrigators, and transaction to other regions. Model parameter values were set with
costs in water trade. reference to historical data and estimates from econometric
Asymmetric information
Asymmetric information means that irrigators are likely to have Results
information on their water demands that is not available to dam Using the model, an arbitrary ‘aggressive’ release (allocation)
managers. Obtaining information on water preferences from rule was compared with a theoretically optimal release rule. The
individual irrigators may be difficult for a number of reasons. estimated optimal release policy involves holding more water in
First, water preferences are likely to vary significantly across storage reserves, relative to the aggressive policy.
different irrigators because of differences in crop types. The estimated optimal release rule involves a small reduction
Second, irrigators’ water preferences are likely to be subject in mean water use, in turn for a substantial increase in mean
to significant change over time. With asymmetric information, a storage reserves. The optimal release rule acts to minimise
central manager may implement a sub-optimal release variation in the supply and value of water over time. The model
(allocation) policy, that will ultimately reduce average returns to demonstrates that optimal storage policy can lead to an
irrigators in the long run. increase in mean irrigator incomes and a substantial reduction
in variability of incomes. The model results show an estimated
Transaction costs in water trade increase in the mean economic value of water of 11.8 per cent
Transaction costs refer to costs incurred when making an and a reduction in variability of more than 63 per cent.
economic exchange. There is evidence to suggest that A sensitivity analysis conducted using the model also
irrigators face significant transaction costs when trading water demonstrated that the gains from optimal storage
allocations in the Murray-Darling Basin. Water trade can be management (both in terms of mean and variability of incomes)
subject to both direct financial transaction costs such as increase substantially as water availability reduces. The results
government and brokers’ fees, and non-financial indirect confirm that with greater water scarcity, there is more to be
transaction costs such as time costs incurred by irrigators. gained by improving the management of irrigation water
Under a simple announced allocation system, substantial storages. That is, when inflows are lower and less reliable,
temporary trade in water allocations may be required to there is more to be gained by holding water in storage to insure
achieve an efficient allocation of water across different irrigators against drought conditions. This is an important result given
in each time period. predictions of reduced water availability across much of the
Murray-Darling Basin in the future because of the effects of
High and low reliability entitlements climate change.
High and low reliability entitlement systems (referred to as
general and high security entitlements in New South Wales) are Carryover rights and capacity sharing
relatively common in the Murray-Darling Basin. High and low An alternative to centralised storage management is a
reliability entitlement systems have the potential to reduce decentralised approach, in which individual irrigators are given
temporary water trade requirements, and reduce irrigators’ greater control over storage decisions. Decentralised
exposure to transaction costs, by providing water rights which approaches have the potential to address the problems of
more closely match the reliability preferences of individual centralised storage management. In this report, two
irrigators (Freebairn and Quiggin 2006). However, systems of decentralised approaches to storage management are
high and low reliability entitlements do have a number of considered: carryover rights and capacity sharing.
practical limitations.
Carryover rights
Implications for investment A carryover right allows water users to hold over a proportion
While not considered in detail in this report, in practice it is likely of their seasonal water allocation for use in future seasons.
that storage management policies will have important Carryover rights have been in place in many New South Wales
implications for irrigator investment decisions. For example, and Queensland irrigation systems for some time and have
storage management policies, by influencing the yield-reliability recently been introduced into a number of Victorian and South
of water entitlements, will tend to influence the relative Australian systems.
attractiveness of different irrigated activities. In the long run, a While carryover rights may help irrigators overcome some of
fixed centralised storage policy may act as a constraint on the problems associated with central storage management,
irrigator investment, for example preventing an optimal carryover rights are an incomplete solution. Carryover rights are
distribution of low and high flexibility irrigation activities. incomplete because they do not explicitly define rights to
storage capacity or to associated storage losses. As such,
A water storage model individual carryover decisions have external effects which
As a part of this study, an economic model of the water influence other users of the same storage. In an attempt to
storage problem facing a representative irrigation system was minimise these external effects, significant restrictions are often
developed. The model incorporates representations of the placed on carryover rights, which further weaken their
demand for water by irrigators and the irrigation water supply effectiveness.
system (e.g. inflows, storage and associated losses). The Access to carryover water may also be subject to sovereign
model is stochastic, in that inflows into storages and rainfall risk, as has been demonstrated in a number of recent
onto irrigation farms are subject to random variation, based on instances where irrigators have been denied access to
a defined probability distribution estimated using historical data. carryover water during drought periods.
The optimisation model developed was applied to a case
study region to demonstrate the potential benefits of Capacity sharing
improvements in storage policy. The case study region is based Capacity sharing is a system of allocating property rights to

water from shared storages proposed by Dudley (Dudley and To demonstrate the potential costs of inefficient storage
Musgrave 1988; Dudley and Alaouze 1989; Dudley 1990a; management, an economic model of the water storage
Dudley 1992). Under capacity sharing, each entitlement holder problem facing a representative irrigation system was
in an irrigation system is assigned a share of the total system developed. This model was applied to a case study region, the
storage capacity and a share of total inflows. Users are free to Murrumbidgee. Model parameter values were set with
manage these capacity shares independently; determining how reference to historical data and estimates from econometric
much water to use (or sell) and how much to leave in their
literature. Using the model, a suboptimal aggressive release
share of storage.
rule was compared with a theoretically optimal release rule.
Capacity sharing results in water entitlements which more
closely reflect the physical realities of the water supply system. The estimated optimal release rule generated a small
Unlike carryover rights, capacity sharing ensures that storage reduction in mean water use in turn for a substantial increase in
space is efficiently rationed and losses are internalised. mean storage reserves. The model demonstrated the ability of
Capacity sharing has a number of other potential benefits the optimal policy to lead to an increase in mean irrigator
relative to systems of carryover rights. Capacity sharing incomes and a substantial reduction in variability of incomes.
replaces the traditional announced allocation system and, in The model estimated an increase in the mean economic value
doing so, removes a layer of regulatory uncertainty. Capacity of water of 11.8 per cent and a reduction in variability of more
sharing also involves redefining water rights at the source, than 63 per cent. The model also demonstrated that the gains
which offers a number of potential efficiency improvements, from optimal storage management, both in terms of the mean
including the potential to internalise water delivery losses. and variability of incomes, increase substantially as water
One complication with capacity sharing is the occurrence of
availability reduces.
internal spills – where individual water accounts reach capacity
In this report two decentralised approaches to storage
and forfeit their inflows to other water users. However, the
economic costs of internal spills are negligible and internal spills management were considered in detail: carryover rights and
are likely to occur infrequently in practice. Another important capacity sharing. Carryover rights have the potential to
consideration in the transition to capacity sharing will be to overcome some of the problems of centralised storage
minimise any actual or perceived distributional effects, by management. However, carryover rights are an incomplete
ensuring the newly defined capacity share water entitlements solution, since they do not define explicit property rights to
adequately preserve all existing irrigator water entitlements. storage capacity or to losses associated with storage. As a
Capacity sharing is typically considered in the context of result, carryover rights generate external effects, where
relatively simple water supply systems, where all water is individual irrigator carryover decisions affect other irrigators in
sourced from a single storage. While there may be some the system. In an attempt to minimise these external effects,
concerns about the suitability of capacity sharing in more significant restrictions are often placed on carryover rights
complex systems, it is not obvious that the concept could not which further weaken their effectiveness.
be sufficiently generalised. The ability of the capacity sharing
Capacity sharing is a property rights system proposed by
framework to be applied to a range of more complex water
Dudley (Dudley and Musgrave 1988), which involves redefining
supply systems remains a subject for potential future research.
water entitlements into separate storage capacity rights and
Concluding Remarks water/ inflow rights. Unlike carryover rights, capacity sharing
Water storages play a vital role in the supply of water for ensures that storage space is efficiently rationed and that
irrigation farms. Storages serve to smooth variation in the losses are internalised. Capacity sharing has a number of other
supply of water and equalise the marginal value of water over potential benefits relative to systems of carryover rights.
time. Capacity sharing replaces the traditional announced allocation
The management of these storages is an important but system and in doing so removes a layer of regulatory
difficult task. Determining what proportion of available water to uncertainty from existing water entitlements. Capacity sharing
store for the future, and how much to consume now, is a
involves redefining water rights at the source which creates a
complex problem given the presence of substantial uncertainty
number of potential efficiency improvements, including the
over future inflows and water demands.
potential to internalise water delivery losses.
In Australia, major irrigation water storages are centrally
managed via the announced allocation system, where each One complication with capacity sharing is the occurrence of
season a water manager determines the amount of water internal spills – where individual water accounts reach capacity
available for use now (water allocations) given prevailing and forfeit their inflows to other water users. However, the
storage levels. Under certain conditions a centralised approach allocation efficiency implications of internal spills are negligible
could achieve an efficient allocation of water resources; and in practice internal spills are likely to occur infrequently.
specifically, if the water manager had perfect information on the Another important consideration in the transition to capacity
water demand preferences of irrigators and there existed an sharing will be to minimise any actual or perceived distributional
efficient (costless) market in water allocations. effects, by ensuring the newly defined capacity share water
In practice, the water manager is unlikely to have perfect entitlements adequately preserve all existing irrigator water
information on the water preferences of irrigators. There is likely entitlements.
to be asymmetric information; irrigators are likely to know more
Capacity sharing is typically considered in the context of
about their water demands than the water manager. Also, there
relatively simple water supply systems, where all water is
are likely to be significant transaction costs in water trade. A
centralised announced allocation approach relies heavily on sourced from a single storage. While there may exist some
trade in water allocations to allocate water between irrigators concern about the suitability of capacity sharing in more
with varying reliability preferences. Given these practical complex systems, it is not obvious that the concept could not
difficulties, a decentralised approach, where irrigators are be sufficiently generalised. The ability for the capacity sharing
enabled to make there own storage decisions, may be framework to be applied to a range of more complex water
preferable. supply systems remains a subject for potential future research.


The naked truth about
our landscape
Australia has been stripped bare of vegetation to expose the
surface that lies beneath.

cientists from CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy The DEM will provide a body of information
Country Flagship have removed related to water resources and is a key activity
approximately 90 per cent of Australia’s within the water information research and
vegetation cover from satellite images of the development alliance between the Flagship and
continent to produce the most detailed available the Bureau of Meteorology’s ‘Improving Water
Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of its topography. Information Program’.
“The DEM will revolutionise geological The final phase of building the one-second
applications, land-use studies, soil science, and resolution DEM will occur over the next year with
much more,” CSIRO’s Dr John Gallant said in an the inclusion of Australia’s river network to
address to the Spatial Sciences Conference in produce a drainage-enforced DEM that will assist
Adelaide. the Bureau to generate water accounts for the
“The DEM will revolutionise geological continent.
applications, land-use studies, soil science, and
The DEM is based on the Shuttle Radar
much more,” CSIRO’s Dr John Gallant, in his
Topographic Mission (SRTM) satellite data
address to the Spatial Sciences Conference in
collected by NASA during its Space Shuttle
mission in 2000.
“Produced at a one-second resolution—about
30 metres—the DEM exposes intimate details The one-second DEM dataset is licensed and
about Australia’s landscape features. As a result, managed by project collaborator Geoscience
we can now clearly make out the shape of our Australia, and will be available from mid-
landscape and understand how water might move November to all tiers of Australian government. A
across its surface, how it came to be its present three-second version (approximately 90 metres) of
shape and how variable our soil terrains are.” the DEM will eventually be available for public use.
Since releasing the Digital Surface Model (DSM) For Further Information:
last year, the new vegetation removal process has Dr John Gallant
also resulted in a ‘spin-off’ vegetation height map Land and Water
that may be useful for calculating biomass and Phone: 61 2 6246 5734
contributing to carbon accounting. Email:

Satellite images near Culcairn in NSW showing the topography with vegetation (left) and without vegetation (right) by: CSIRO


Super foods
Value adding to our
natural produce
It can be difficult to make
the time or effort to
ensure that the
foods we’re eating
are giving us enough
nutritional value. Australian
scientists are on a mission
to remedy this problem, by
creating a new team of
vegetable super-heroes
that are nutritionally
enhanced to take the
difficulty out of making
healthy choices.

cientists from the Victorian Department of Primary consumers. The broccoli is now available in shops around
Industries (DPI) and The New Zealand Institute for Crop Australia, plastic-wrapped to ensure that the nutritional value of
and Food Research have been working on developing the vegetable is retained until it is consumed.
these enhanced foods for over five years, due to increasing ‘The intent behind Vital Vegetables was not only to create a
public awareness of the role of vegetables in fighting serious range of vegetables with known health benefits, but to ensure
diseases, as well as mounting concern over vegetables that they were also commercially available to customers,’ says
imported from overseas. Dr Rod Jones, Team Leader of Plant Physiology at the DPI.
Leading the charge in the super food revolution is ‘booster And broccoli is only the beginning. Vital Vegetables plan to
broccoli’, a new, naturally grown product from Vital Vegetables introduce high-vitamin capsicum, and several lines of lycopene-
that claims to contain over 40 percent more active antioxidants packed tomatoes into their range in the near future, and intend
than the broccoli usually found in shops. One of these on eventually releasing frozen options for their super vegetables.
antioxidants is Sulforaphane, which helps eliminate free radicals Another superfood, developed by scientists at CSIRO, is
in the body, and is thought to have a preventative influence on BARLEYmax, a high-fibre wholegrain that claims to amplify the
heart disease and some cancers. nutritional benefits of wholegrains. CSIRO’s intentions with the
The broccoli is bred from a strain of the brassica vegetable production of BARLEYmax were similar to those of Vital
that contains more naturally occurring antioxidants than others, Vegetables. ‘Our initial aim with BARLEYmax was to enhance
and is not genetically modified or artificial in any way, which has the nutritional qualities of standard barley. Once this was
traditionally been a major cause of concern for Australian achieved, it was important to make the improved grain available

to the consumer via the food industry so all Australians could BARLEYmax was discovered as a part of genetic modification
benefit from CSIRO’s breakthrough,’ says Dr Bruce Lee, research, but is not a genetically modified food – similarly to
BARLEYmax was discovered as part of CSIRO’s ‘booster broccoli’, it is bred using conventional plant breeding
development of a collection of new non-genetically-modified techniques, without the addition of any extra genes – the
barley grains. A variety of BARLEYmax grains was bred using hallmark of genetic modification.
traditional grain-growing methods, and CSIRO joined forces Still others have claimed that the superfoods are trying to
with food manufacturers to make the grains available to attract consumers away from regular products by promising
consumers. more than what they offer in reality. The developers of Vital
CSIRO claim that BARLEYmax is a richer source of Vegetables are quick to emphasise that their products are not
antioxidants than apples and strawberries, has twice the intended to detract from the health benefits of existing vegetable
antioxidants of oats, three times the level of regular broccoli, products, or to replace the vegetables that are already available.
and four times that of tea. ‘There’s been a lot of emphasis on the issue of prevention [in
BARLEYmax can now be found in two cereals, and by 2012 relation to chronic diseases], and we hope that these products
the intention is for BARLEYmax to be incorporated into a range that are now in the marketplace and others that are in the

of foods, including traditionally wholegrain fare such as bread, pipeline will assist in improving public health,’ says David
pasta and biscuits. Topping, Chief Research Scientist at the CSIRO Future Foods
Eventually, it’s thought that BARLEYmax will enhance the National Research Flagship.
nutritional value of many foodstuffs, and a point of debate is its The team at CSIRO also point out that the act of enhancing
inclusion in fast-food products. The CSIRO see their superior existing foods is a positive long-term goal that will ensure that
wholegrain as a way of helping consumers to increase the the diets of the public will contain as much nutritional value as
nutritional value of their food without having to compromise on possible, even if they continue to eat the way they do now.
taste and convenience. Development of supergrain-enhanced Down the road is scope for products that contain selections
hamburger patties, sausages and cheeses is currently of different types of produce aimed at targeting specific health
underway, with the aim of providing fast food that looks, smells problems. Bags of lettuce could be designed to give maximum
and tastes like fast food, but has the hidden properties of benefits to a person suffering from arthritis, and a packet of stir-
supercharged wholegrains. fry vegies might contain the right nutrients to aid a diabetes
Some believe that creating nutritionally advanced versions of patient, essentially tailoring food to meet the nutritional needs of
‘unhealthy’ foods is a move that will halt the progress of dietary the consumer. It’s a big proposition, but one that seems to be
awareness amongst Australians, giving people an excuse to becoming more likely as developments continue to occur.
continue eating poorer quality foods without the guilt associated The superfoods industry is on the brink of major
with their indulgence. breakthroughs and significant expansion, promising big
In addition, the national fear of genetically modified foods is changes in public health and the agriculture industry. Changes
seeing some people reacting negatively to superfoods, with the are unlikely to occur faster than a speeding bullet, but they’re
view that enhancing existing crops is a form of genetic coming, and when they arrive we could be leaping buildings in a
modification. single bound.


Aiming to lead the world in
agricultural modelling
CSIRO, Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries (QPIF) and The University of
Queensland have joined forces to develop world-leading agriculture modelling
technologies to help farmers improve crop risk management and profitability.
he joint venture has been provides virtual farm modelling, are

T formed to further develop the
Agricultural Production
Systems Simulator (APSIM) – a
helping farmers and researchers
design more profitable and
resilient crops, practices and farm
computer simulation model which businesses,” Dr Rodriguez said.
takes into account many of the “Farmers have to contend with
factors affecting a farm’s success, reductions in the allocation of
including different plant, soil and water for irrigation and changes in
management approaches, to prices and that is where our work
inform on-farm management can help farmers adapt.”
decisions. He said dryland farmers can also
APSIM has a broad range of benefit from the support available
applications including: farming through APSIM and APSFarm to
systems design, assessment of help identify more profitable
seasonal climate forecasting, allocations of their production
supply chain planning, resources between cropping and
development of waste livestock enterprises.
management guidelines, risk “The APSIM and APSFarm
assessment for government policy models are also helping
making, as well as guiding researchers and farmers identify
research and educational optimum adaptation pathways in
activities. the face of increasing climate
The APSIM Unincorporated Joint variability and climate change,” Dr
Venture (APSIM UJV) Steering Rodriguez said.
Committee Chair, University of According to project scientist,
Queensland Professor Kaye University of Queensland Professor
Basford, said the recent signing of Graeme Hammer, advances in
a new APSIM agreement builds on areas such as virtual crop
over 20 years of research and modelling are essential to meet the
places the joint venture at the growing demand for grain for
forefront of world agricultural feedlots or ethanol production.
modelling research. “To mitigate the impact of
Director of CSIRO’s Sustainable climate change and diminishing
Agriculture Flagship, Dr Brian water supplies and meet the
Keating, said the initiative will help demand for grain, scientists need
Australian agriculture respond to to find high-performing varieties
the critical challenges of that best suit environmental
increasing productivity while conditions and market
reducing its environmental requirements – and we are doing
footprint. this through APSIM,” Professor
“The APSIM research team is Hammer said.
well placed to build on its past “Major breakthroughs in
achievements and achieve new molecular technology mean
innovations in knowledge-based scientists can now engineer genes
systems to support the for water-use efficiency and ideal
productivity gains and enhanced root-system architecture. Virtual
management practices needed for plant technology could provide the
the future prosperity of Australian answers for new-age crop
agriculture,” Dr Keating said. improvement.”
QPIF APSIM UJV Leader Dr Initially the new APSIM UJV
Daniel Rodriguez said in this time Initiative will consist of CSIRO, the
of global change there is an urgent Queensland Department of Primary
need to help farmers capitalise on Industries and Fisheries and The
opportunities. University of Queensland, but other
“Recent advances in our groups are being encouraged to
APSFarm tool, for example, which participate.


New Ultrasound and Artificial
Insemination Techniques
Improve Sheep Breeding
Bred for meat as well as wool, sheep have been part of the American landscape
since colonial times. Now, advances in genetic research are changing breeding
procedures, leading to faster, cheaper, and more accurate techniques.

Western white-face ewes and lambs on a pasture at the University of Wyoming Livestock Farm, Laramie, with university student Kalli Koepke in the background.

Using Ultrasound for University, assistant professor Henry
Selective Breeding Zerby coordinated the collection of
New research is making it easier to carcass-trait data for the lambs.
predict the future—at least as far as Lewis collaborated with ARS
lamb products are concerned. At scientists and Dave Notter, a
the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station geneticist at Virginia Tech, to
in Dubois, Idaho, research leader analyse the data.
Greg Lewis and his colleagues have Results showed that a trained
shown that ultrasound can be used technician can capture an
to accurately predict characteristics ultrasound image in about 30
that indicate carcass yield and value seconds with reasonable accuracy.
in live sheep. Scientists can use the images to
This could significantly improve estimate traits that influence the
the speed and accuracy of carcass value of market lambs—
selective-breeding methods. Since such as loin muscle area, loin
carcass data is difficult for muscle depth, and back-fat
producers to obtain, many of them thickness.
currently rely on visual appraisals to Ultrasound is initially more
predict carcass traits before expensive than visual appraisals,
choosing which sheep to breed. but the technique’s superior
Ultrasound provides a faster, more accuracy may translate into better
accurate alternative. economic returns through improved
To assess the reliability of the evaluation and selection of breeding
technology, scientists captured stock.
Ewes and lambs on a pasture at the University of Wyoming
ultrasound images of 172 lambs “Ultrasound is a great way for Livestock Farm in Laramie. Recent research by ARS may make
before slaughter. At Ohio State breeding-stock producers to get the artificial insemination of sheep easy enough for producers to
tackle on their own.

But help is on the way, thanks to research conducted by
ARS animal scientists at the National Center for Genetic
Resources Preservation (NCGRP) in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Researchers there are collaborating with scientists at the
University of Wyoming (UW) to improve semen handling and
artificial insemination on sheep farms. The work is being led by
NCGRP animal physiologist Phillip Purdy in collaboration with
animal geneticist Harvey Blackburn and UW colleagues Robert
Stobart and Brent Larson.
“Effective AI has two components: the ability to collect and
transport semen—either fresh or frozen—to producers around
the country and the ability to economically inseminate the
ewes,” Blackburn says.
The scientists first focused on semen collection, storage, and
transport. They found that sheep semen can be collected and
shipped—in cooled liquid form—overnight before freezing
without harming its in vitro quality. They also found that semen
could be cryopreserved—or frozen for later use—after shipping
without reducing its success in surgical AI.
Further studies compared semen that had been
cryopreserved immediately after collection to semen
cryopreserved after 48 hours—about the time required to ship
samples across the country. The scientists observed no
difference in quality or fertilisation ability nor in the average
number of lambs born to the ewes surgically inseminated with
those samples.
“These results show that there are many options available to
producers to help them select for desirable traits,” Purdy says.
Producers could, for example, use samples from around the
world, thereby expanding and improving their breeding options,
increasing the quality of their flocks, and providing a better
return on their investment.
This work also has benefits for conservators of genetic
resources, like the NCGRP, that gather and store genetic
Animal physiologist Phillip Purdy uses a water bath to thaw frozen semen for use
in an insemination procedure. materials.
“An efficient insemination method is important for our
data they need to make selection decisions,” Lewis says. conservation efforts,” says Blackburn, who heads NCGRP’s
Reliable predictions are timesavers for breeders because National Animal Germplasm Program. “If we can do it more
they enable them to make educated decisions about an efficiently, we can reduce the number of semen samples we
animal’s offspring without waiting for the offspring to mature. collect for preserving sheep genetic diversity.”
While the technology is used routinely for cattle and swine, this
study demonstrates that it can also be applied to sheep. Better Nonsurgical AI
The scientists have developed a rapid, economical alternative
Improving Surgical Artificial Insemination to existing surgical AI methods. The technique is an adaptation
Artificial insemination (AI) is an important tool for modern of the method used in swine. The researchers used a spiral
livestock breeding—particularly for cattle and swine. But for insemination catheter to traverse the ewe’s cervix and deposit
most sheep producers, AI isn’t a viable option. The ovine cervix thawed semen directly into the uterus. The method is easy to
is relatively difficult to traverse with traditional AI tools, so learn and easy to perform. Each sheep takes about 2 minutes
techniques that work easily with cattle have been less to inseminate at a cost of $1.29, making it significantly faster
successful with sheep. Surgical AI has a higher success rate, and less expensive than laparoscopic surgical insemination.
but is prohibitively complicated and expensive. And it’s easy enough for producers to do independently.
Though quick and economical, the technique is less reliable
than existing AI methods. Early tests have had success rates of
about 55 percent when using fresh semen and about 10
percent when using frozen semen.
“This difference was not observed in the previous
experiments, because surgical inseminations deposit the AI
dose at the site of fertilisation, so minimal stress is placed on
the thawed sperm,” Purdy explains. “Sperm are generally
weakened by the freezing and thawing processes, and this
impaired function in thawed samples becomes more noticeable
when using the nonsurgical method because the sperm have
to travel farther to the site of fertilisation.”
The scientists are investigating how to hone the technique
and improve its success rate by improving the timing of estrus
and insemination.—By Laura McGinnis, formerly with ARS.
This research is part of Food Animal Production (#101), an ARS national program described on
the World Wide Web at
Phillip H. Purdy is with the USDA-ARS National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation
At the University of Wyoming livestock farm in Laramie, professor Robert Stobart Gregory S. Lewis is with the USDA-ARS U.S. Sheep Experiment Station
(left) and Phillip Purdy prepare to artificially inseminate a Suffolk ewe using an “New Ultrasound and Artificial Insemination Techniques Improve Sheep Breeding” was
insemination gun and spiral catheter. published in the October 2009 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.


Australia needs super soil for
high productivity
With increasing pressure on primary producers to increase their productivity,
irrigation researchers are seeking ways to improve the quality of irrigated soil, given
the vital role soil plays in plant health and productivity.

he National Program for Sustainable Irrigation (NPSI) is Soils Research Pty Ltd researcher Dr Bruce Cockroft, who is
funding a number of research projects all focused on working on another NPSI-funded project, also believes
conserving and improving soils. In one such project, changes in soil management could unlock far more dollars per
University of Adelaide researcher Dr Rob Murray is investigating hectare and per megalitre of water for Australian farmers. He
the long-term sustainability of precision irrigation at sites in the studied the most productive soils all over the world, and
Barossa Valley, SA. identified 24 key properties that are common to all the best
So far, Dr Murray’s team has found no evidence that drip soils, the “super soils”, of the world.
irrigation causes any problems for soil, but as vineyard water “Because of the great age of our soils, there are several key
use in the Barossa Valley is relatively low, further trials are being properties that are missing that cannot be changed,” he said.
completed in vineyards in Victoria and New South Wales. “Our research is attempting to find alternatives to the key
“Virtually every soil we worked with already had very poor properties of super soils. We have evidence from trials that
structure, with low aeration and high resistance to penetration alternatives exist. Now we just need to find out how to build
by roots at depths of only 30cm,” Dr Murray said. them into our soils to make them super.” Dr Cockroft and his
“What we’ve seen makes a strong case for intensive soil research team believe they have found one way to build these
preparation before permanent plantings of irrigated crops, and properties using rye grass.
for ongoing measures to conserve and improve the soil “Good soil management is fundamental to good water
structure that is created during preparation. management”, said Guy Roth, NPSI Program Coordinator.
“Investments in these measures, such as increased use of “That is why it is vital to have productive, healthy soil.”
cover crops and reduced machinery traffic, would be returned Citation
Land & Water Australia. 2009. Australia needs super soil for high productivity. [Online] (Updated
by efficient plants with extensive root systems that are not April 17th, 2009)
addicted to frequent irrigation. With severe water restrictions Available at: [Accessed Thursday 17th of September 2009
12:44:16 AM ].
and increasing climate variability, these strategies will become Article provided by National Program for Sustainable Irrigation


Rot resistant wheat could save
farmers millions
CSIRO researchers have identified wheat and barley lines resistant to Crown Rot –
a disease that costs Australian wheat and barley farmers $79 million in lost yield
every year.

rown Rot, which is a chronic problem throughout the “As well as developing Crown Rot resistant varieties, we are
Australian wheat belt, is caused by the fungus Fusarium. also studying how Fusarium invades the plant, how plants
Dr Chunji Liu and his CSIRO Plant Industry team in resist Fusarium infection and what genes may be involved in
Brisbane are using sophisticated screening methods to scan defending the plant against Fusarium or reducing its effect on
over 2400 wheat lines and 1000 barley lines from around the yield,” Dr Liu says.
world to find the ones resistant the fungal disease. Another of the most serious wheat diseases in Australia,
“The wheat and barley lines showing resistance to Crown Head Blight, is also caused by Fusarium.
Rot are now being used in pre-breeding programs to This work is being carried out with funding from CSIRO and
incorporate the resistance into adapted varieties for delivery to the Grains Research and Development Corporation and in
the wheat breeding companies,” Dr Liu says. collaboration with numerous national and international groups.
Crown Rot infects many grasses and weeds found in wheat
Further Information:
growing regions and minimum till cropping encourages Dr Chunji Liu
Fusarium which survives in cereal stubbles. Principal Research Scientist
Minimum till cropping minimises soil disturbance and retains Plant Industry
plant stubble from previous crops in order to promote soil Phone: 61 7 3214 2223
health and limit erosion. Fax: 61 7 3214 2950
Developing Crown Rot resistant wheat and barley varieties is Email:
an essential strategy in fighting the disease.


Queensland’s weed control
steps up to an international
SOME of our Asian neighbours are using Queensland expertise to combat one of
the world’s worst invasive plants – Siam weed, or chromolaena as it is known

Adult gall flies mating

hromolaena invades rainforests, smothers crops, young
plantations and native grasslands as well as being toxic
to livestock. Biosecurity Queensland scientist Michael
Day said the tiny gall fly (Cecidochares connexa) was proving to
be very successful in controlling outbreaks of chromolaena.
“The gall fly lays its eggs in the stems of the weed and the
feeding larvae cause the stems to swell, which kills the plant
and reduces the formation of flowers and seeds,” he said.
“This allows other more favourable plants such as food crops
to grow.”
Mr Day said the gall fly was first used by the Queensland
Government as a biocontrol agent in Indonesia in 1996, and Siam infested with gall fly eggs

then with great success in Papua New Guinea from 1998 until
2007. By reducing the presence of the weed in neighbouring
“Word of the success of the PNG program has spread to countries we are reducing the possibility of any more of it
other neighbouring countries that are also battling infestations coming onto our shores. It’s a win-win result for all involved.”
of chromolaena,” he said. The PNG project was part of an Australian Centre for
“We conducted a similar project in East Timor in 2005 and International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project to provide
we’ve now been approached by colleagues in China and more support and training to countries that do not have the
recently Thailand.” necessary resources and expertise.
Mr Day said that closer to home, Biosecurity Queensland “Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries have a long
was leading the Siam weed eradication program in history of providing agricultural support to our neighbours,
Queensland. especially in the field of biocontrol,” Mr Day said.
“While we don’t have the large established infestations seen “Australia is only one of five major countries to invest in weed
in our neighbouring countries, we now have a tried and proven biocontrol research. Not only does this mean we can help
biocontrol agent to release if needed,” he said. countries without the same opportunities that we have, we also
“We are also ensuring the future biosecurity of our country. have useful networks to call upon if we ever need assistance.”


Eighty acres, one hundred
percent carbon neutral
Wakefield Wines, based at the Taylors Winery in the Clare Valley, South Australia,
have accomplished a world-first achievement by producing a range of wine that is
completely carbon neutral.

he winery has long been part of the South Australian
landscape, and is committed to environmental
conservation. “Taylors Wines is a family owned wine
company operating in both rural and urban environments. This
direct link with the land, along with the long term view we hold
for our business development, results in a commitment to
operating in a manner that eliminates any negative impact on
the environment,” says Mitchell Taylor, Managing Director and
Winemaker at Taylors Wines.
In order for a wine to be 100 percent carbon neutral, the
entire winemaking process must be assessed, from the
preparation of the land for planting the vines, to the disposal of
the bottles.
In 2008, Wakefield enlisted the help of Australian-based
consultancy company Provisor, who specialise in the wine,
food and beverage industries. Provisor developed a Life Cycle
Assessment (LCA) model to assess the whole range of
Wakefield’s Eighty Acres wines.
Assessment of the carbon footprint of the Eighty Acres wine
production process was separated into four categories, with
each contributing a different percentage to the overall product’s
carbon footprint. The categories were: Grape Growing and
Winemaking (28%); Production and Packaging (43%);
Transport and Sales (11%); and Consumption and Disposal
This includes a partnership with Carbon Neutral, a not for
This process required Provisor to work with Taylors Wines, as profit company dedicated to the reduction of Australia’s carbon
well as all of their partners involved in supply and distribution, footprint through measuring, reducing and offsetting
to collect unique data about every product in the Eighty Acres greenhouse gas emissions. Taylors Wines purchase their
range. After the LCA had been completed, it was carbon offsets credits through Carbon Neutral in the form of
independently verified by RMIT University in Melbourne in May Verified Emissions Reduction Units (VERs), which each are
2009, and was found to be ISO 14044 compliant. equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide or equivalent
As a result, Wakefield Wines now have a comprehensive emissions avoided.
assessment system in place, with which they are able to Additionally, for each tonne of VERs that Taylors Wines
monitor the carbon efficiency of any of the wines in their Eighty purchases, Carbon Neutral will plant a tree which will provide
Acres range, and implement measures to negate any carbon environmental benefits such as wind breaks, improving
emissions that are detected. biodiversity and sequestering carbon, among others. The trees
A major element in the reduction of the winery’s carbon will be legally protected for 70 years.
footprint is its packaging. Wakefield has transferred the wine in As well as focusing on the Eighty Acres range of wines,
their Eighty Acres range from regular wine bottles into O-I’s Taylors wines also actively promotes other environmental
new LEAN + GREEN lightweight glass bottles. The decision not practices. Eco-Mapping is an integral part of the Taylors
to use PET bottles was made due to PET bottles not being winemaking enterprise, and helps to define areas of
impervious to oxygenation, which taints the quality of the wine. environmental concern within the business that require
As well as being committed to the environment, Wakefield is attention.
committed to quality, which means ensuring that the taste of Taylors has also built a state of the art water recycling plant
the wine isn’t detrimentally affected by the carbon neutral at its Auburn Winery in the Clare Valley, which recycles all of the
process. water from the winery and bottling hall. In addition, storm water
The LEAN + GREEN glass is 40 percent lighter than the is harvested via this facility for re-use.
glass that Wakefield originally used for its packaging, and the Compost, mulching and river regeneration are all key
use of these bottles significantly reduces the water and energy elements of Taylors’ sustainability focus, and the Sydney Head
consumption of production. Office is powered by green power. What’s more, sheep have
Of course, it’s impossible for any winemaking process to be been introduced into certain blocks of vines at the Albury
completely emissions-free, but it’s possible to drastically reduce vineyard to control grasses and weeds. This has reduced the
the emissions, and offset any that remain. need for pesticides, and provided manure as natural fertiliser
“For each and every bottle of Eighty Acres wine sold Taylors for the vines.
Wines is committed to offsetting 100% of the carbon emissions Wakefield’s 100% Carbon Neutral Eighty Acres wines can be
associated with the complete life cycle of that product,” says distinguished by the Wakefield 100% Carbon Neutral Leaf
Taylor. trademark on bottles and cartons.

On road to
a cleaner

Used lead acid batteries contain materials which, if not disposed of
correctly, can be harmful to humans, wildlife and the environment.
98% of a used battery is recyclable – don’t discard old batteries withh
household waste, simply return them to your nearest Century Yuasa
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