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TAS Country : February 23rd 2012
6 Tasmanian Country Friday, February 24, 2012 Year of the Farmer Rob and Jo Bradley Want to breed a herd of high production, trouble-free and long-lasting cows? Then register now to attend a free information day about traitplus® and mateplus®, Australia's first independent conformation evaluation service and breeding program suitable for all herds and all breeds. Featuring guest speakers from ADHIS and the Dairy Futures CRC, these lunchtime and twilight sessions will show you how these cutting-edge tools can help you breed a better business. Register today! Start breeding a better business today! 1300 788 188 www.holstein.com.au *Special introductory offer includes traitplus evaluation and mateplus breeding program. Terms and conditions apply. Offer ends 31/12/12. traitplus and mateplus are registered trademarks of Holstein Australia. HA-2558 *Special introductory offer includes traitplus evaluation and mateplus breeding program. Terms and conditions apply. Offer ends 31/12/12. traitplus and mateplus are registered trademarks of Holstein Australia. HA-2558 from just $3* per cow INFORMATION DAYS SCOTTSDALE 1 MARCH Twilight SMITHTON 2 MARCH Lunch Holstein AUSTRALIA Duo sows a fertile harvest YEAR OF THE FARMER 2012 WHEN a substantial transformation of a farming practice is called for it helps when the enterprise gets two intellects for the price of one -- particularly if one is also a Nuffield Scholar. That's the case with Rob and Jo Bradley, both eminently qualified in farm management, and with the additional benefit of a highly successful family farming partnership behind them. It was a partnership in which siblings, spouses and parents teamed up to convert Northern Midlands properties from dryland operations to intensive cropping. Rob Bradley grew up on a cropping property at Gunnedah in north-west NSW. He has a Bachelor of Business in Agricultural Commerce from the University of New England. He met Jo Chilvers, from the Conara farming family, who has a Bachelor of Management Farm Business and an associate diploma of Rural Business Administration from the University of Sydney. They married and moved to Tasmania in 1997. ''Agriculturally, I could see a lot of opportunity here at that time,'' Rob Bradley says. ''There hadn't been a lot of irrigation development done at that stage. Land values were fairly cheap and cropping options were very favourable.'' The Chilvers family agreed on a formula in which the three children, their parents and partners would pool their expertise to develop available grazing land and introduce pivot irrigation with the end-game being three viable farming units. Over the course of the next 13 years they achieved that with properties at Nile, Symmons Plains, Longford and Cressy. With each unit now economically viable, Rob and Jo took the Longford properties, Woollen Park and Rosemount, the partnership had acquired in 2005. Today the Bradleys are farming 1200ha on the two properties, the amalgam of several former sheep properties in the Longford-Cressy area. In 2009, Rob won a Nuffield scholarship that took him to the US and the UK to investigate how to integrate livestock and pasture into an irrigated cropping system that would improve soil quality and deliver a profitable and sustainable farming enterprise. ''I had always been interested in continuing my education and the Nuffield network of scholars was very appealing but I was also looking at the challenges we were facing in our farming,'' he says. ''If we are going to continue doing what we are doing, what are the things that are important? That's what I wanted to have a look at. ''In the early days we were developing long- term perennial pastures and converting them into intensive irrigation country. It was very easy, but in reality we were mining the advantages that perennial pasture had given our soils in terms of organic matter and structure. As soon as we could, we put pivot irrigators in and were irrigating and cropping that ground.'' But there was a downside. ''This is not wonderful ground to farm. If it's not shallow (soil) duplex country it's challenging clay ground yet we were trying to crop them as if they were north-west coast type soils. ''We were growing onions, poppies, and peas in quite intense rotations. At that time we were not using livestock in rotation with this intensive cropping. ''Our yields weren't diminishing overly but our cost structures were growing enormously. Our soil structures were declining; we were getting more disease issues, herbicide resistance. So I was looking at the things we needed to do to continue to crop this country successfully. ''What I really wanted to find out was how other horticultural and other cropping areas were maintaining their sustainability. Were they using supplements in terms of buying in organic matter or were they using a rotation? ''What I found was that we are one of the only places in the world that do mixed cropping -- in terms of mixing livestock and crops -- and that our livestock operations provide an enormous opportunity to improve and maintain our soils in good condition so as to be able to continue to crop them. ''Effectively it is that opportunity to put a perennial crop into the cropping rotation, whether that be lucerne or a ryegrass seed or just being put down for pasture for a number of years. Having a high-value livestock operation is really important to our cropping systems.'' He says having the perennial pasture crop is the key. It is having a long-term grass that is building organic material, improving soil structure, and soaking up surplus water that is getting into the subsoils. ''We have therefore changed the mix, increased our livestock numbers and brought more perennial crops in.'' The partnership had created a dairy unit at Rosemount, which the Bradleys will double in size to 900 cows by July. That is share-farmed with Grant Archer, who also works with Bill
February 16th 2012
March 8th 2012