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TAS Country : October 28th 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010 Tasmanian Country 5 News Optimism follows steady rainfalls KAROLIN MacGREGOR EXCELLENT winter rains and hopes of a good season boosted Tasmanian agribusiness per- formance to the highest level in the country last month. The latest Westpac and Char- les Sturt University Agribusiness Survey Index has revealed that the state's agribusiness perform- ance hit record-equalling levels during September. Tasmanian agribusiness scored +0.19, the equal highest for Tasmania and all other states in the history of the survey. Westpac chief executive for agribusiness Graham Jennings said Tasmania's performance during the September quarter was two points higher than the June quarter. This year's results are also significantly better than last year's score, which was +0.05 or 14 points lower. ''There is increased optimism among agribusiness in most of Tasmania due to the recent rains, which are expected to bring a better pasture- and fruit-growing season,'' Mr Jennings said. ''This is further helped by good prices for lamb and more re- cently wool, but it is being tempered by concern about a downturn in the apple industry.'' He said that infrastructure was listed by Tasmanian farmers as something that would have the biggest impact in regional Australia in the next three years, along with access to water. Farmers also said that input costs, attracting and retaining staff, telecommunications and technology would also have an impact. ''A quarter of respondents to the survey in Tasmania ranked infrastructure as having the most important impact on regional Tasmania in the next three years,'' Mr Jennings said. The results suggest that invest- ment in infrastructure in re- gional Tasmania will reap signifi- cant rewards.'' Survey co-ordinator Tom Murphy said business confidence among Tasmanian producers had risen sharply this year. ''Seventy nine per cent of respondents in Tasmania said that they were confident about the future, the equal highest in the history of the survey for Tasmania,'' Mr Murphy said. ''This is in spite of the chal- lenges of the rising Australian dollar against the US dollar.'' Mr Murphy said a strong performance was also expected in the December quarter. PIONEER: Poultry farmer Rob Nichols, who has a wind turbine on his property. Picture: ROSS MARSDEN LOOKING AHEAD: Paul Lambert on one of his NW properties. Scholarships to provide energy boost for Tassie KAROLIN MacGREGOR RENEWABLE energy will be major focus for this year's Tasmanian Nuffield Scholarship winners Rob Nichols and Paul Lambert. Mr Nichols, who runs the Nichols Poultry business at Sassafras, first became interested in renewable energy several years ago. This saw him install a 225 kilowatt wind turbine on the property in 2008 to help supply power to the poultry farm and processing facility. Since then Mr Nichols has also established a renewable energy business, Blowing In The Wind. As part of the Nuffield Scholarship, each winner receives about $28,000 to embark on a study tour to countries of their choice. Mr Nichols said one of the main subjects he was keen to investigate was bio-digesters, which transform waste into a source of renewable energy. He said it may be possible to install a system on the property that used waste products such as manure and poultry guts to produce methane, a valuable source of energy. ''I felt this is an organisation that could help me achieve what I want to achieve and allow me access to people in other countries who are already doing this,'' he said. As part of his travels, Mr Nichols plans to visit countries including Germany, Sweden, and Austria. He said in some European countries farmers now had the choice of growing crops either to feed livestock or, if market conditions were right, to produce energy. While becoming 100 per cent self-sufficient for energy is his ultimate goal, Mr Nichols said he hoped his tour would provide information that could assist other Tasmanian farmers to adopt renewable energy technology. ''I think the way the community views renewable energy has really changed in the last five or six years,'' he said. ''When I started looking at putting in a wind turbine, some people probably thought it was a crazy idea, but now renewable energy is seen as the way to go and I think that's going to continue.'' Dairy farmer Paul Lambert runs three properties in the state's North-West, milking 2400 cows. Mr Lambert is also interested in looking at renewable energy systems, including bio-digesters and bio-char. With large amounts of effluent being produced on each of his dairy farms, Mr Lambert hopes his study tour may provide some ideas on how to get better use out of it and produce renewable energy. 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October 21st 2010
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