Local and offshore agricultural investors are running their slide rules over the latest large-scale Riverina listing, Ballandry Station Farming Aggregation at Griffith.
According to listing agent Bruce Gunning of Ray White Rural International, the offering represents what could be one of the last “big ticket” buying opportunities for Riverina broadacre cropland.
With most of the large holdings now in either corporate or other institutional ownership, investors will have few chances in the future to secure agricultural holdings on the scale of “Ballandry”, he says.
On offer is a total land package of 27,735 hectares (68,535ac), comprising a “cropping block” of 19,436ha and an “irrigation development block” of 8298ha.
The property is being offered for sale by expressions of interest (closing July 31), either as a whole or in two portions, along with 45,455 Murrumbidgee Irrigation delivery entitlements.
As such, it presents a rare opportunity for a serious investor to acquire a major chunk of Riverina farming land and potential irrigation country in a prime and central location.
Situated about 24 kilometres north of Griffith and extending north from there to the Mid Western Highway, the aggregation is owned by David Bartter, who is winding up his agricultural interests.
Mr Bartter and his brother, Peter, previously owned and operated the huge Bartter Enterprises poultry business at Griffith, before selling that in 2009 to Baiada Poultry.
The property now for sale as Ballandry Station Farming Aggregation has been built up by Mr Bartter over a period of 35 years, and now incorporates 17 individual properties (the largest being Ballandry Station of 5165ha) held in three separate land parcels.
About 80 per cent of the total area is arable, of which some 21,000ha is now under crop (mostly wheat and barley).
The country is all farmed on a share or contract basis, and a buyer will have the option of taking over the owner’s share of the growing crops.
Described as level to slightly undulating, with a small area of low hill, the country across the aggregation is predominantly red loam with some chocolate and brown loam.
Soils have been enhanced over the years by regular applications of chicken litter in addition to normal fertiliser.
This has resulted in improved fertility and water-retaining capability, as evidenced by wheat harvests in recent years consistently averaging above two tonnes a hectare.
Although all the cropping is now on a dryland basis, the property comes with irrigation potential.
The so-called “irrigation development block” has direct frontage to the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area northern branch canal to which it holds 45,455 delivery entitlements.
This offers scope for future intensive development, following the example of other recent investors in the area who are now successfully growing cotton, walnuts and other high-value crops.
Working infrastructure is in keeping with the scale of the farming operation and includes 30,000 tonnes of grain storage of which 20,000 tonnes takes the form of four near-new bulk grain sheds.
The balance is spread across numerous grain silos which are mostly used now for seed storage.
Other structural improvements include machinery sheds, workshops and 10 homes.
The latter includes the large brick homestead that came with Ballandry Station.