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TAS Country : August 5th 2010
4 Tasmanian Country Friday, August 6, 2010 News Burnie Clydesdales back in town From Page 4 The couple breed a few foals each year and have some due again this season in November. Mrs Hodgetts said the draught horses were a major draw card at the Burnie Show. ''People just love coming along and seeing them and they quite often just stand around watching us getting them ready,'' she said. One of their biggest wins on the mainland was winning the Su- preme Exhibit award at the Dandenong Heritage Show. ''That was a real thrill, be- cause we're just small-time breeders, and we were up again- st some of the big guys,'' she said. ''So to win it with an eight- month-old colt against mature horses was a pretty big achieve- ment, we were thrilled.'' Entries in this year's livestock events are expected to be up this year after a boost in sponsorship and prize money. A new competition will see exhibitors enter a team of three sheep, one of which will be slaugh- tered at a local abattoir and the carcase will be judged on the hook. Show livestock committee spokesman John Lehman said the new competition would be open to all sheep breeds including Dorpers and Wiltshires. The led steer competition which was introduced last year will also be a feature of the cattle section again this season. The show will kick off a series of led-in steer competitions. There will be more goats and alpacas. Entry forms are available by contacting the Burnie Show sec- retary Anne Kaine on 6431 5882. Traffic control key Potato grower John McKenna enjoys a challenge and during the past three years his work on developing controlled traffic cropping systems have been just that. Karolin MacGregor reports SUPERB: John McKenna shows off his spuds. Pictures: CHRIS KIDD The soil is definitely more friable and it drains better . . . but at the same time it also holds more moisture.' JOHN McKenna's work on his family's Gawler property has not gone unnoticed and he was recently presented with the Ra- bobank Simplot Young Potato Growers award in recognition of his efforts. The McKennas grow about 3000 tonnes of potatoes a year in their mixed farming operation which also includes crops such as onions, broccoli, cauli- flowers, poppies, peas and car- rots. The family also runs sheep and cattle. Mr McKenna said they started using a controlled traffic system in conjunction with the Tas- manian Institute of Agricultural Research with an onion crop three years ago. Since then they have also grown potatoes, poppies, cauli- flowers and broccoli under a seasonal CTS and this year will grow carrots. Mr McKenna said one of the biggest challenges to successful controlled traffic was the vary- ing wheel widths of the machin- ery used on crops, particularly at harvest time which made keeping dedicated growing areas and wheel tracks through- out the paddock difficult. ''One of the biggest issues at the moment is the machinery and particularly the har- vesters,'' Mr McKenna said. ''They all have different widths and they're also some of the heaviest machines too. ''It's just one of those things and until the demand is there for wider wheel bases, the ma- chinery companies won't make them.'' Mr McKenna said a lot of the harvesting work was underta- ken by processing companies so his family tried to maintain seasonal controlled traffic sys- tems up until harvest. He said he had noticed an improvement in soil structure in the growing areas of their paddocks since changing over to controlled traffic. ''The soil is definitely more friable and it drains better,'' he said. ''But at the same time it also holds more moisture.'' One of the major advantages of a CTS is that it prevents the growing areas in the paddock becoming compacted and im- proves soil structure. And it also provides firmer tracks for machinery which can reduce fuel and tillage costs. Mr McKenna said a reduction in fuel costs had been one of the biggest benefits they had experi- enced so far. ''There is a notable difference of about 30 per cent in the fuel and time,'' he said. To help with the potato CTS, Mr McKenna has a custom made three row planter with a 2.5m span between the wheels. ''Some people are wondering how we'd go with the wider machinery because a lot of our cropping areas aren't totally flat like they are in Europe where they do this a lot. ''But I've actually found it's a lot more stable.'' Mr McKenna said having wider wheel tracks meant less trips up and down the paddock and a greater crop growing area. Accuracy is vital when estab- lishing a CTS so GPS technology is needed to ensure the rows are placed where they should be. Last year Mr McKenna trav- elled to Europe on a Horticul- ture Australia Limited-funded study tour to learn more about controlled traffic. ''There are quite a few guys over there that are going into it and they've spent a lot of money getting machinery with the same wheel widths,'' he said. ''It is an expensive process to do that over here at the moment. ''But I think that will change as more people start to look at it.''Mr McKenna said the system was still in the experimental stages on his property, but the results had been promising. ''When you start looking at the improvements in water ef- ficiency you can get through better moisture retention and the reduction in fuel costs, I think there are definitely some benefits there,'' he said. As part of the Rabobank Sim- plot Young Potato Growers award, Mr McKenna was pres- ented with a bursary to attend the Rabobank Farm Manager Program later this year in Bris- bane. Food plan first policy on farming BLAIR RICHARDS LABOR has announced a national food plan to cover food security, food quality, food affordability and sustainability. This week's announcement by Agriculture, Fi- sheries and Forestry Minister Tony Burke was the first agriculture-related policy to be released by either major party during the election campaign. ''This is a first for Australia and will integrate all aspects of food policy by looking at the whole food chain, from the paddock to the plate,'' Mr Burke said. ''Even though we export 60 per cent of what we grow, we need to ensure that our country's food security is protected in the years to come.'' Mr Burke said the food plan would include a consultation with key industry players such as the National Farmers Federation, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, CSIRO and Woolworths. Main points to be considered as part of the plan would include: Domestic and international food security. Food affordability. Food sustainability from production through to export. The productivity and efficiency of the value chain to improve global competitiveness. Streamlining business regulations. Ensuring there are appropriate economic, taxation, labour market and education policy set- tings for a robust food production system from farmers through the whole chain. ''The Food Plan will begin by bringing farmers, manufacturers and processors, distribution and logistics companies, retail and food-service compan- ies, and the expertise of our agricultural and food scientists together to develop a strategy to maximise food production opportunities,'' Mr Burke said. Shadow parliamentary secretary for agriculture, fisheries and forestry Richard Colbeck said the food plan would be a poor substitute for axed agricultural research-and-development funding. ''It is all very well for Labor to suddenly announce a National Food Plan when, over the last three years, they have been stripping the Agriculture Depart- ment and R&D organisations of funding and personnel,'' Senator Colbeck said. He said farmers wanted real action to improve productivity and biosecurity and certainty. ''The Coalition will be releasing its policy on agriculture and food security shortly,'' he said. ''We are already committed to having a Food Security Minister in government.'' Greens Senator Christine Milne said while she welcomed the food policy, she was concerned it was too consumer-focused. Senator Milne said Australian trade negotiations needed to be focus on how to keep farmers on the land -- not just how to keep supermarket prices down. Climate change and water management should also be included in any food plan. ''How do we keep farmers on the land when they are getting such low farmgate prices?'' she said. TASMANIAN ALKALOIDS Value Adding in Tasmania 2027824-100716 Germinating poppy crops can be at risk. Watch out for slugs, snails, earthmites and springtails. Take appropriate action if required. Your Field Officer can advise. .
August 12th 2010