IMPROVING the soil, keeping paddocks clear and controlling weeds motivates a cereal cropping enterprise in Cobar, not to mention supplying the Victorian dairy industry with truckloads of an oats and vetch hay mixture.
David Harrison, “Nullawarra”, Cobar, said he plants cereal crop on about 1400 hectares of his 13,500ha property.
“We’ve been in Cobar for 13 years and put crops in every year,” he said.
“It’s a marginal area, (but) by putting a crop in you are ploughing the country and controlling the weeds, so you get benefit by keeping paddocks clear and getting a crop every year, it’s improving your property all along,” Mr Harrison said.
Harvest is expected in September, depending on how much rain falls in the next few months.
“We had 59 millimetres three weeks ago, we’re only an 80mm (annual average rainfall) region,” he said.
The crop may not come off every year, but in the 13 years we have been here we have made hay in reasonable quantity four times.
“We are definitely looking for a bit of rain right now, there are people that are drier than we are, the first couple of years we didn’t get the break until June 10, but the break was two weeks earlier this year.”
Mr Harrison also operates “Jabaree”, a White Suffolk stud, and cross bred lambs.
But he said working the land for cropping maintains his paddocks for his livestock. The oats and vetch is used as a hay mixture aimed for the Victorian dairy market. “The reason we grow hay here is the cost for freight is a killer, we have the opportunity to grow (hay) here.”
A lack of grubs and insects in central western NSW is a big factor that drives Mr Harrison to crop hay.
“We have had no grubs or insects this year, (but) we had the locusts back in 2010.
“The crop went from six inches (15 centimetres) to nothing overnight when the locusts came through.”
“The crop may not come off every year, but in the 13 years we have been here we have made hay in reasonable quantity four times,” Mr Harrison said.
His property was the first to be cropped in the Cobar region.
Oats, vetch prime feed for Victorian dairies
COBAR cereal crops are being trucked to Victoria to feed the dairy industry, although people worry the trade might not continue much longer.
“Nullawarra” owner David Harrison, Cobar, said his cereal crop of oats and vetch hay mixture for the Victorian market, has been sent down that way for a number of years. “I have a guy down in Victoria who comes up and bales it for me,” Mr Harrison said.
After Murray Goulburn recently announced it would close three of its major factories, a ripple effect through disaffected dairy farmers has caused a shift from dairy to beef.
“Victoria is chock-a-block with B grade hay, I’d say every farm down there made hay last year, they had a great year,” said Mr Harrison.
The aim of selling the cereal mixture to locals and the dairy industry in Victoria has paid its way for Mr Harrison, although some years the crops have not came out as strong as he would like, the mixture is popular.
“It might not come off every year, but in the 13 years we have been here we have made hay in reasonable quantity four times.
“Although we don’t know how long it will continue to go to the dairy industry, I dare say it will keep up,” he said. The diminishing number of Victorian dairy farmers and the region’s ability to produce its own hay in good years has set back the buying in of products, Mr Harrison said.
“The reason we grow hay here in Cobar (for ourselves) is the cost of freight is too much, it’s a killer from here unless you are making money off it," Mr Harrison said.
“Some years we don’t have to make hay because we already have a shed full.”
But Mr Harrison said one thing was sure, you can’t go wrong with cropping, because it keeps your land in order.