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TAS Country : March 3rd 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011 Tasmanian Country 19 News Irrigators try to remove blockage JENNIFER CRAWLEY SHANNON Clyde irrigators say they will do everything in their power to ensure the Tasmanian Irrigation De- velopment Board scheme for their region proceeds. Irrigators learned last month that the Shannon Clyde Irrigation Scheme had been suspended by the TIDB because of an ''impassable block''. In a letter to irrigators, TIDB Shan- non Clyde project manager Chris Cleary said negotiations between Hydro and lower Ouse River irrigators had stalled. However, the irrigators say they are not the stumbling block. Irrigators met last Wednesday to complete an operating manual for management of the Clyde, including winter allocations. They plan to have the guidelines drawn up and approved by the TIDB by March 22. ''It is really, really good news,'' irrigator group chair Richard Hallett said. ''We didn't want the TIDB citing any issues to do with us that were holding up the scheme. ''The original idea behind the whole scheme has multiple benefits for the whole region. We really want to get this up and running.'' In the letter to irrigators, Mr Cleary said Hydro Tasmania would not grant a Water Supply Agreement for the Shannon Clyde scheme until farmers along the lower Ouse River agreed with Hydro on a cap to their water rights. He said the TIDB could not ask irrigators to commit to buying water rights in the Shannon Clyde without knowing the cost and availability of water for the Shannon Clyde, which depends on the Ouse negotiations. Meanwhile, Shannon Clyde irri- gators are in discussions with Primary Industries, Water and Environment Minister Bryan Green to shore up support for the scheme. ''When this goes ahead it will go a long way towards fixing the Bothwell town water supply,'' Mr Hallett said. ''We don't want to be held up by Hydro negotiating the water supply agreement.'' Hydro Tasmania spokesman Ian Colvin said the organisation was com- mitted to working out a negotiated agreement so the Shannon Clyde Irri- gation Scheme could proceed. Mr Colvin said Hydro wanted ''a fair outcome that does not penalise irri- gators while capping the water entitle- ments for the Ouse riparian properties''. ''The uncapped water rights were legislated for over 50 years ago,'' he said. ''Hydro Tasmania believes such un- capped rights are unsustainable. How- ever, we recognise the concerns of irrigators to ensure they are not unfairly penalised by capping these entitlements. ''Hydro Tasmania is confident that progress can be made. Our door is always open and we remain hopeful the project will go ahead in the not too distant future.'' CLOSE EYE: Dr Hazel MacTavish West is the brains behind purple carrots and potatoes. TEST: MacTavish West samples apricots. Science underpins fresh approach JENNIFER CRAWLEY The public want to taste this instead of fruit from the black plastic baskets in the supermarkets, they want packaging that identifies the apricot as Tasmanian.' TAKE one woman scientist, a test tube and a batch of fruit and vegetables and you end up with MacTavish West, an agricultural consultancy led by Dr Hazel MacTavish West. The colour purple has been in the news lately with purple carrots and potatoes turning up everywhere. The woman behind the colour is MacTavish West. ''Eating a carrot a day has been shown to significantly reduce tumour size in some cancers and the compound we think is responsible occurs at five times the normal level in purple carrots,'' Dr MacTavish West said. A new carrot variety called Deep Purple grown by North West family business Premium Fresh Tasmania is about to hit supermarket shelves and Purple Gem potatoes grown by the Dalys of Dunalley are on their way to shops throughout Australia. But now the good doctor (known as the Vegdoctor on Twitter) has turned her attention to apricots and the largest provider of the fruit in Australia, Cool Climate Investments at Cambridge in Tasmania's south. CCI has been working with Agricultural Resource Management and MacTavish West to prove they produce the best tasting apricots in the southern hemisphere. MacTavish West is assessing the sensory quality and analysing the flavour volatiles and carotenoid content of more than a dozen apricot varieties from Tasmania, mainland Australia and New Zealand. When the results are in, the company will use the information in their planting, marketing and branding regime. CCI manager Charles Black said it ''took a while to get our heads around it''. MacTavish West's tests varieties for sugar, firmness and taste and the company makes a science-based selection of varieties. Longer daylight hours, complex soils and a temperate climate make Tasmania the perfect place to grow apricots. ''Our fruit flowers at the same time as the mainland but lasts two months longer on the trees,'' Black said. ''The mainland is done and dusted by the middle of December but ours are harvested in early February. ''The longer the fruit is on the tree the more flavour it has. ''Our fruit have a better shelf life and better structure and Hazel's test statistics verify that. ''So we are investing in our brand. ''The public want to taste this instead of fruit from the black plastic baskets in the supermarkets, they want packaging that identifies the apricot as Tasmanian.'' Cool Climate has 30 per cent of the mainland apricot market. ''We want to grow more and we can do that by increasing awareness of the fruit with packaging and branding -- the more we can brand, the more dollar value gains we make,'' Black said. MacTavish West, a phyto-scientist who specialises in the natural chemistry of fruit, vegetables and flowers has returned to Tasmania after working in the UK for 11 years. She said she was pleasantly surprised by the amount of work that had come her way, due largely to the innovative approach taken by Tasmanian and mainland producers and marketeers. MacTavish said farmers needed to add value at the farm gate if they were to succeed. ''You have to get out of Tasmania and see what the rest of the world is doing,'' she said. ''Scientists have an important part to play to help growers because most innovations require knowledge of biochemical processes and complex interactions. It all requires joined-up thinking.'' Grower anger as grain rejected From Page 3 Mr French said a system needed to be implemented where grain testing equipment was calibrated regularly to ensure it was meeting the required standard. ''Obviously there has to be a small amount of leeway, but up to two per cent difference between the highest and lowest isn't good enough,''he said. Mr French said he had received calls from angry growers and contractors about the issue in recent weeks. In theory, while grain receival depots require grain moisture levels to be below 12.5 per cent most will accept a reading of 13 per cent. Many growers whose grain is turned away because of a high moisture readings are often forced to sell it at a lower price just to get rid of it. Mr French said because many growers operated within tight margins, it was not viable for them to have their crops dried after harvest. He said grain could be stored at about 14 per cent moisture in aerated silos, but many farmers did not have enough silos to store their grain on their farms. Mr French said with no signs of fine and warm weather, many farmers needed to store grain to successfully finish the harvest. He said said there were a number of nervous growers around the state. ''The quality is starting to go down as well,' he said. ''If this continues there will be quite a few growers getting a bit toey about getting their crops off.'' Mr French urged growers harvesting grain in the coming weeks to be aware of the potential differences in moisture meter readings.
February 24th 2011
March 10th 2011