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TAS Country : August 19th 2010
16 Friday, Augu On Farm Farming and forestry have proved a winning combination over the past four decades for Ian Dickenson. land THIS Karolin MacGregor PERFECT PASTURE: Cattle graze on turnips on a section of Ian Dickenson's 2628ha property. THINKING AHEAD: Ian Dickenson says his cropping program is designed to be low risk. It's certainly much easier to sleep at night when there's a raging storm going on and you know your stock have plenty of shelter and they're well fed.' Harmony in diversity DRIVE around Elverton near Blessington and it is easy to see how forestry can play a successful role in diversifying a farming operation. Ian Dickenson, well known for his involvement as a board member of Private Forests Tasmania, first bought the farm in 1969 when all but 200ha of the 1500ha property was covered in bushland. At the time, Mr Dickenson said native forests were often viewed more as a problem than a resource. With a need to clear the land, Mr Dickenson become involved with forestry for the first time when he signed a contract with APPM to sell 10,000 tonnes of timber a year for 50 cents a tonne. ''That was really my first experience with the forestry industry,'' he said. ''I was one of the first farmers to send trees there and some people probably thought I was crazy for even buying the place. ''But I was young and full of energy and enthusiasm.'' Unhappy with the standard of work being done on his property by the forestry contractors, Mr Dickenson decided to take on the harvesting himself. ''I'd never done it before but I soon taught myself to fall. ''It was pretty dangerous work and I learned to run pretty quickly.'' It was a steep learning curve for Mr Dickenson, but by talking with the sawmillers and timber buyers about their requirements, Mr Dickenson had soon boosted the salvage ratio from his forests dramatically. At the time contractors were salvaging about 50,000 super feet of milling timber from 11,000 tonnes, while Mr Dickenson could produce 250,000 super feet of saw logs from just 5000 tonnes of timber. ''I enjoyed working in the forests and in the mid 1970s when the beef market crashed I went back to logging on other farms for a while,'' he said. ''It became clear to me very early on that having timber harvesting as part of my business mix was very important.'' Now Mr Dickenson's 2628ha farm includes a recently purchased 367ha property. The farm includes a diverse mix of both farming and forestry enterprises designed in what Mr Dickenson calls a peek-a boo-style which mixes plots of forest with open paddocks and irrigated cropping areas. About 122ha of the property is under plantations made up of either eucalyptus nitens, radiata pines and specialty species such as macrocarpa pines. Mr Dickenson said the plantations were strategically placed on the property's poorer soil types and more exposed areas to provide shelter. There is also about 359ha of native forest dedicated to timber production and another 122ha of native forest in reserves. The remaining native forest makes up 160ha while 80ha of forest has been set aside on stream reserves or to protect eagles nests. Roads, shelterbelts and other farm infrastructure account for about 22ha. The dryland grazing area is 1038ha and there is 350ha of irrigated land. The farming operation is mixed with a combination of cattle, fat lambs and cropping. Mr Dickenson said his cropping program was deigned to be low risk and normally included growing between 80-90ha of peas a year for Simplot as well as grass seed crops and fodder crops used to fatten lambs and provide winter forage for cattle. The cow operation is made up of 860 breeding cows and most have Angus genetics. Mr Dickenson said he had gradually changed his cow herd from a Shorthorn Simmental cross to Angus over the past
August 12th 2010
August 26th 2010