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TAS Country : August 25th 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011 Tasmanian Country 5 News Police forced to take stock of night fright JENNIFER CRAWLEY ROAD BLOCK: Farmers who herd livestock on public roads must put out warning signs to motorists. FARM animals wandering on public roads have cau- sed major headaches for Tasmania Police in the past month. Police were called out 20 times in 10 days to herd livestock off roads, and most of the calls were made at night, Tasmanian Police State Traffic Co- ordinator Inspector Mark Beech-Jones said. He said officers who found the livestock placed them in nearby paddocks. ''The paddock may not be where they came from, or even be owned by the owner of the livestock,'' Insp Beech-Jones said. ''Sometimes they get mixed with other animals or herds, or they eat some- one's crops or new growth. ''These are significant concerns for farmers who allow their animals to wander.'' In one incident, 30 cows were found on Back Line Rd at Forest in the state's North-West. If a driver is injured or a motor vehicle damaged, the farmer can be charged with allowing stock to wander. They can also be sued. Insp Beech-Jones said cows found on roads at Smithton, Stanley and Red- pa posed a two-fold risk. ''They are a risk to the motoring public, especially in poor driving conditions, but there's also a risk to the animal,'' he said. ''And farmers lose live- stock, whether it's wandered away or it's stolen, they lose livestock.'' Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Jan Davis said livestock being on roads was often beyond farmers' control. ''People leave gates open or fences are down because of flooding,'' Ms Davis said. She said people should be driving defensively in the wet conditions. ''They might come acro- ss a fallen tree, it could be anything,'' Ms Davis said. RACT general manager Darren Moody said far- mers who herded livestock across roads needed to have appropriate warnings at either end of the herd or flock. ''I feel for the farmers,'' Mr Moody said. ''Their fences are getting overrun by water, but they still need to maintain gen- eral maintenance. They have a moral obligation, but we realise farmers try to do the right thing.'' Department of Infra- structure Energy and Re- sources corporate affairs manager Suzie Jacobson said there was nothing in the Roads and Jetties Act that addressed the problem of livestock on roads. She said there were of- fences under the Police Offences Act, and some local councils had by-laws where it is an offence to allow livestock to stray into a public place. Ms Jacobson said public places included state high- ways or subsidiary roads, but livestock on roads was not a DIER matter. She said the Traffic Act referred to the manage- ment of livestock under the control of people on a highway, as in droving. ''We support the call from Tasmania Police for farmers to check their fences and for motorists to be alert to the possibility of straying livestock on the road when driving in rural areas,'' Ms Jacobson said. ''But we also know that it is unlikely that a farmer knowingly does the wrong thing. The reality is that many of these animals are far too valuable. ''The recent extreme weather events that have resulted in significant damage to many of the state's road infrastructure may have contributed to the increase in incidents.'' . An end to the guesswork KAROLIN MacGREGOR SUCCESS: Agvita technical manager Darren Hicks, right, and operations manager Michael Ruffels at their Devonport laboratory. Picture: CHRIS KIDD A TASMANIAN testing company is putting the state on the agricultural map by taking the guesswork out of farming for producers across the country. Set up in 1990 through well-known Tasmanian agricultural company Serve-Ag, Agvita Analytical is now a stand- alone business that services producers in every state. The company will soon be celebrating the second anniversary of the opening of its laboratory near Devonport. Agvita technical manager Darren Hicks said more and more farmers from a variety of industries, from vegetable production and intensive horticulture to dairy and broad-acre cropping, were using the company's testing services to fine-tune their operations. The laboratory offers plant, soil and water testing and plans to implement a feed testing service are also in place. ''The business really grew out of the vegetable industry in Tassie, but the fact we're a relatively small company and we focus on getting fast results and really good customer service has enabled us top be quite competitive even against some of the really large testing companies on the mainland,'' he said. Getting testing results back quickly was essential for farmers who may be monitoring crop nutrition levels through the season or want to find out whether to put fertiliser on before the next rain. ''That's one of our main marketing advantages, the fact we are not a huge business with thousands and thousands of samples being tested every day means we can offer our clients a really good service,'' he said. The company's main plant test is a sap test which checks the nutrient levels in the growing plant and is significantly faster than the other plant testing method know as dry tissue testing. The sap testing enabled them to get highly accurate results out to farmers within a day or so of receiving the sample. For this reason about three quarters of the company's business now comes from interstate. Over the past 21 years since the business was established, Agvita has built up a valuable data- base of crop results which enables the company to provide feedback to producers on individual testing results. Mr Hicks said they were able to compare test results with the desirable levels they have developed though 20 years of testing crops at different growth stages. Carbon testing is also another service the company offer. Mr Hicks said plant testing could be a valuable tool for farmers who were growing high-value crops such as poppies which needed specific nutrient levels at different growth stages. ''A lot of our clients are actually agronomists who use the test results to advise their clients.'' The laboratory was now looking at the diary industry to expand. For this reason they are currently looking into using some of the testing equipment at the company's laboratory to set up a feed test service in Tasmania. On Friday, September 2, the company is holding an invitation-only open day where producers will be able to see the laboratory first hand. Mr Hicks said a limited amount of room meant they had to restrict numbers at the open day, but anyone who wanted to have a look at the facility at other times could contact him. Young cattle award up for grabs YOUNG people involved in the Australian beef indus- try have been invited to apply for the Cattle Coun- cil Rising Champions In- itiative. The Cattle Council in- itiative is designed to sup- port young people passion- ate about the beef industry, Cattle Council president Greg Brown said. Finalists select a project from Cattle Council policy such as trade and market access, the environment, research and development and animal welfare. Successful candidates travel to Longreach, Queensland, to meet with Cattle Council who help finalists develop their proj- ects. Each finalist is sup- ported by a mentor. Finalists attend Cattle Council policy debates, and leadership and public speaking workshops. The person who demon- strates the greatest leader- ship potential will be na- med the 2012 NAB Agribusiness Beef Indus- try Rising Champion at the Stockmans Hall of Fame in Longreach, in November. The winner gets an all- expenses paid beef tour to the state of Colorado, in the US.People between the ages of 21 and 35 years have until Wednesday to submit an application. .www.catt- lecouncil.com.au/rising- champions. 2034287-110715 TASMANIAN ALKALOIDS Value Adding in Tasmania Soil test now for correct fertilizer application O P TT ! $1,749 DELIVERED! 44TON! 13 HP! FREE X BLADE SPILTS 4 WAYS! SEEN IT CHEAPER? TELL US.. 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August 18th 2011
September 1st 2011