Tour examines different farming systems

Allister Morris, Winnindoo,
Allister Morris, Winnindoo, at the first stop on the itinerary on Sunday morning at a trial site at The Gap, Omeo.

Leaky weirs in a regenerative agriculture setting, thousands of tonnes of grain in a cropping and sheep enterprise and a 440-cow dairy that uses collars to monitor and draft their milkers enthralled Gippsland farmers.

Gippsland Agricultural Group (GAgG) organised the tour and more than 30 farmers from Nilma to Foster and Bairnsdale took part, visiting farms around Omeo, Holbrook, Wagga Wagga, Cooma and Orbost.

One of the farmers on the tour, Allister Morris, Winnindoo, who operates a sheep, cropping and contracting business, has enjoyed all the farm visits, but particularly those to sheep properties.

“I learnt from Tom Bull at LAMPRO that ‘more doesn’t always mean more profit’,” Mr Morris said.

“Tom said one of his clients has a lower lambing percentage than other clients but operates one of the most profitable businesses.

“It’s just something to think about, that’s why it’s good to go on tour, to see how producers similar to me are doing different things.”

Mr Morris is looking at venturing into producing composite sheep and was interested to hear how some producers bred their way into composites using existing ewes, while others bought composites in to make the process faster.

GAgG chief executive officer Trevor Caithness is also on the tour and said it was interesting to see the willingness of the visited farmers to commit to large on-farm infrastructure.

“It might have a long pay-back period for the generation working the farm, but future generations will benefit,” Mr Caithness said.

“At the dairy farm it was good to see conserved fodder was an essential part of Scott McKillop’s business plan for the year.

“He wouldn’t consider running a business without 12 months silage in front of his cows.

“It’s good to be able to take information from enterprises even if they’re unlike your own.”

The GAgG tour also visited large stud operations like Rennylea Angus, Injemira Herefords run by ex-Gippslanders, the Greening family, and Hazeldean Angus and Merino.

GAgG general manager Jen Smith said the research tour gave producers an opportunity to get off their farms, to connect and to learn from other farmers and each other.

“It gives them the chance to get off the tools, to stop working in the business and start working on the business,” Ms Smith said.

“So often we get bogged down on the day-to-day jobs that we don’t have time to work on the strategy and future direction for our agribusinesses.

“Tours like these are opportunities to see what other farmers are doing and to work on that strategy builds resilience and capacity for our businesses to grow and thrive.

“Building the knowledge skills and confidence of our region’s farmers on these tours is the type of activity that will get us ready for drought and unlock the production potential of our region’s farms.”

Gippsland Farmer

The Gippsland Farmer is a monthly agricultural newspaper reporting on rural news and distributed FREE and direct to an area covering from Cann River through to South Gippsland. For more than 40 years Gippsland Farmer has reported on a range of issues and industries including dairy, beef, vegetables, sheep, goats, poultry, organic farming, and viticulture.