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TAS Country : September 1st 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011 Tasmanian Country 3 News GROWING CONCERN: Maarten Blokker, above, checks on calla lilies in a greenhouse at his Wesley Vale business. Business is really blooming KAROLIN MacGREGOR TASMANIA'S temperate climate provides a remarkable market opportunity for flower grower Maarten Blokker. As the state rugged up over winter, in Mr Blokker's glasshouse at Wesley Vale it is a balmy 20C. Mr Blokker has been growing flowers at his business, Blokker Freesia Tasmania, in the state's North-West for about 13 years. He became involved in flower growing after following in the footsteps of his father, who originally started the business. ''My father started off the business as a small grower and then we moved here because the climate in this area is ideal for growing flowers,'' Mr Blokker said. ''It's quite close to the sea, so we don't get too many frosts, and in summer we get the sea breezes, which keep things cool.'' The business has gradually expanded over the years and there is now about 1ha of undercover growing area. In summer, Mr Blokker also grows dutch irises outside. However, freesias are Mr Blokker's biggest crop, and he grows about 280,000 bunches or about 2.8 million stems a year. Tasmania's cool climate enabled him to supply freesias to the market during the warmer months when condition interstate were too hot. Mr Blokker also grows calla lilies, which can be difficult to produce because they need ideal conditions. Winter is a quieter time at the flower business, but Mr Blokker's staff are still kept busy preparing bulbs and greenhouses for the next season. Production begins to ramp up in October and continues until May. Mr Blokker said an increase in the amount of technology used in the growing system had been one of To Page 5 Fine feathers on show THE Royal Launces- ton Poultry and Pigeon Show will be held at the Longford Showgrounds tomor- row from 9.30am. With over 900 en- tries it is the largest show of its type in Tasmania. Details: 0438 614 228. Woolnorth milks demand KAROLIN MacGREGOR Dairy production set to be tripled PLANS for a major dairying expansion at the country's biggest dairy farm could see milk production triple at Woolnorth. The Van Diemens Land Company is planning major dairying expansion over the next seven years, which could see production triple to more than 15 million kilograms of milks solids annually. VDL chief executive Nicola Morris said the company had a number of strategies in place that would underpin the dairying expansion. ''We produced over five million kilograms this year, which makes us average, but that's not where we want to be,'' she said. ''This is something we've already been working towards through investment in wallaby fencing and capital fertiliser, so the process has already started.'' Once completed, the expansion could see the property running about 40,000 dairy cows. At present there are 17,000 dairy cattle on the property and 11 dairy farms. A vital part of the expansion plan will be securing more reliable water resources for both the existing oper- ation and future irrigation. Woolnorth is often perceived as being a very wet property, but Ms Morris said in fact during the warmer months from November to March it was not uncommon for the property to receive very little rain. While they have adjusted calving patterns to help manage this, Ms Morris said the plan was now to increase water availability. At present most of the water across the property is sourced from bores. Ms Morris said this would continue, and establishing some more reliable bores was also part of the plan. Establishing on-farm water storages and greater access to water from the Welcome River are other options now being examined. To expand production a major in- crease in the property's dairying area will be needed. Ms Morris said as part of the plan, 3500ha currently used for beef pro- duction will be assessed to see how much can be converted to dairying. The dairy heifer operation will also be moved off the property, and along with some recently cleared land this will provide another 2400ha. Ms Morris said they had spent the past few years dramatically improv- ing heifer management, and this was something they would ensure con- tinued even if this part of the operation was moved off-property. As past of the improvements, about 200km of wallaby fencing has been erected on the property at a cost of $2.3 million. VDL has also spent about $2 mil- lion improving soil fertility through capital fertiliser applications particu- larly in the beef and heifer areas, in readiness for dairying. Land clearing Ms Morris said another important part of the expansion plan was to look at clearing part of the 7700ha of bushland across the property that is currently not used for any agricultural production. ''We're working with the State Government at the moment to find out which areas of that land may be suitable for clearing and development,'' Ms Morris said. ''Obviously we realise that Woolnorth is a unique environment and there are a number of protocols and processes that have to be followed . . . I'm certainly not saying that all of that area or even half of it will be cleared, but we are keen to develop some areas.'' Ms Morris said the company was seeking investment partners for the expansion project and the interest so far had been overwhelming. ''We've had to promote dairying in Australia because there is a perception out there that Australia is very dry and not really suitable for dairying, so we've had to let people know that's not the case, particularly in Tasmania, which is more like New Zealand '' she said. ''We've found overall, though, there seems to be a huge appetite for investment in dairy.'' Ms Morris said while VDL's milk supply was currently committed to Fonterra, she welcomed news that a new milk processing company would soon be established in Smithton. ''I think the more processors we have the more competition there is and that's going to be very good for Tasmania,'' she said. ''When you have competition, it is also very positive for the industry.'' 2034287-110715 TASMANIAN ALKALOIDS Value Adding in Tasmania Soil test now for correct fertilizer application 2054685-110708 JBS AUSTRALIA All types of Livestock required for processing at our Longford & Devonport Plants For a competitive price ring our Livestock Buyers today JBS Australia Tasmanian Livestock Team Tom Archer Livestock Manager M 0419 310 701 Allan Boyce Livestock Buyer M 0419 310 698 Mathew Bosworth Livestock Buyer M 0438 912 161 Gavin Coombe Livestock Buyer M 0437 228 536 JBS Australia would like to thank producers for their continued support.
August 25th 2011
September 8th 2011