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TAS Country : September 9th 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010 Tasmanian Country 5 News Poppy reaper quits over deal KAROLIN MacGREGOR TASMANIA'S largest agricultural con- tracting company says it will no longer work for TPI Enterprises after price negotiations for the coming poppy harvest season failed. Peter Radford from Radford Harvest- ing said TPI's push to cut harvesting rates by between 10 and 30 per cent was not sustainable, so he had decided that cutting ties with the poppy company was the only option. Last season, Radford Harvesting har- vested about 45 per cent of TPI's 2800ha of crop, using two machines. ''Our two machines were the most modern they had in their fleet of six or seven machines last year and we covered about 45 per cent of their work,'' he said. ''We were getting to most paddocks late last year, due to a shortage of productive machinery within the fleet. ''We had little rain and yields were down, which helped to keep us not as far behind.. ''It was due to our machines, and the experience of our operators we were able to achieve better efficiency, which enabled us to cover the area we did.'' Mr Radford said cutting harvesting rates by the amount TPI was demand- ing could jeopardies its ability to run an efficient and professional harvest- ing service. During the peak summer harvest, Radfords runs about 20 harvesters in the state, harvesting poppies for Tas- manian Alkaloids and and pyrethrum for Botanical Resources Australia. ''I know my margins and my costs,'' Mr Radford said. ''We have grown with two of Tas- mania's most professional, fair and expanding companies and if I was getting too much cream I would have been put on a diet years ago. Instead they realise that due to our size we always have good late-model machines, parts, service and backup, and experi- enced operators.'' Timing was a critical part of any harvesting operation, and Mr Radford said he could not afford costly break- downs during the harvest season. ''I look at all parts of my business regularly and if a part is not giving a fair returns for effort or paying on time then I re-evaluate and cease doing it,'' he said. Mr Radford said poppies were one of the most difficult crops to harvest and required machinery operators with experience. This season, TPI Enterprises is hoping to contract about 7000ha of poppy crops. Mr Radford said to harvest that amount, the company would need at least 12 machines. Mr Radford said he hoped TPI was successful into the future. TPI Enterprises managing director Jarrod Ritchie could not be contacted by Tasmanian Country. ENTHUSIASTIC: Courtney Brown, Enya Willis and Jacinta Gastin EDUCATIONAL: The students are given a demonstration in tree-planting. Kids get chance to go native KAROLIN MacGREGOR STUDENTS from Westbury Primary School donned their gumboots and got their hands dirty to learn about the role native plants can play in farming. The Grade 5/6 class visited the Collins family's property, Glenmore at Whitemore, recently where they helped plant trees and shrubs to revegetate an area of the property along Murphett's Creek. The class teacher Garnesh Sundra also went along to help as well as some of the students' parents. Rosemary Collins said the area they were working in had once been part of a dam site that over the years had become degraded as a result of over clearing and damage from livestock. In 2009 the Collins family received a grant through NRM North to help revegetate the area. Mrs Collins said the area, which has now been fenced off from stock, had provided the ideal opportunity to get the students involved. ''Even though Westbury is in a rural area, not many of the students are actually from farms so a lot of them have never planted trees before,'' she said. ''We just thought it would be a great way to get them involved and to help them learn a little bit about agriculture at the same time.'' The students planted about 80 trees during the time at Glenmore and also had a good look at some of the native insects and animals living in and around the dam site. Along with being a good educational activity, it is hoped the revegetation work will help to combat a rising problem of salinity at the site. It should also reduce water and wind erosion and provide some habitat for native birds and animals. Mrs Collins said getting students involved with projects like this was important from a long-term perspective. ''I think a lot of the issues we're facing in agriculture and rural areas now is because there is a huge disconnect between the people who are making the decisions and the people who are actually growing our food and that's a real concern,'' she said. ''Hopefully though by giving students experiences like this it will help them to understand a little bit more about what farmers do.'' 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