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Agriculture stories

The following stories relate to Tasmania’s Agricultural sector:

Graziers test wool branding

Edition 187_Wallace

Tasmania’s superfine wool industry – one of the State’s economic cornerstones since colonial times – is feeling its way from auctioning its world-class clip as a commodity towards branding it as a niche, high-end, natural fibre.

6 September 2017, Edition 187

Rustic eateries right on trend

Edition 187_AgrarianKitchen

The recent opening of two paddock-to-plate eateries in the Huon and Derwent valleys is right on trend in the national food scene.

6 September 2017, Edition 187

Ashgrove doubles butter output

Ashgrove Cheese, at Elizabeth Town, is doubling its butter production capacity following an upgrade to butter-wrapping equipment part-funded by $84,000 from the Tasmanian Jobs and Investment Fund. This $256,000 project has created five new full-time jobs at Ashgrove in a regional area where work is often in short supply. Ashgrove Cheese supplies Woolworths and Coles with its Farmhouse and Herb and Garlic Butter ranges as well as sending the products to independent supermarket and grocery stores around Australia. The Minister for Primary Industry, Jeremy Rockliff, said: “Ashgrove’s products have become so popular that it has struggled to meet growing demand and has been forced to ration supplies … the doubling of butter production capacity will enable the business to meet some of this excess market demand and ensure continuity of supply into fridges nation-wide.” The Tasmanian Jobs and Investment Fund is a $24 million grants program jointly funded by the Australian ($16 million) and Tasmanian ($8 million) governments. It has supported 56 projects worth $92.6 million, creating 774 new jobs.

6 September 2017, Edition 187

Precisely planted peas prosper

Tasmanian researchers have significantly increased the yield of green pea crops through precision planting techniques, with the potential for better returns for growers and long-term benefits to the processing industry. In 2016, the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) embarked on a three-year, $300,000 research project in collaboration with Simplot Australia in the hope of increasing pea yields from 6 tonnes to 8 tonnes a hectare by 2020 – and progress has been promising. Lead researcher Alistair Gracie said: “What we have found is that green pea crops planted exactly 10cm apart have a much greater yield than those with different spatial arrangements. The optimal spacing … allows each plant to equally access light, water and nutrients. Green pea crops planted in this precision arrangement can result in yields of up to 15 per cent more and an increase in margins by up to $750 per hectare.”

6 September 2017, Edition 187

Cherry pioneer says it’s time

Edition 186_Tim Reid ...time to step off the treadmill

Australia’s biggest cherry grower and biggest cherry exporter, Reid Fruits, was offered for sale in July by Expressions of Interest.

1 August 2017, Edition 186

Moon Lake exports fresh milk

Woolnorth farm owner, Moon Lake Investments, is exporting more than 5,000 litres of fresh Tasmanian milk a week to China. So far the company has shipped more than 80,000 litres and has used some of it at promotional Tasmanian taste events. Managing Director, Sean Shwe, said the milk was being freighted through Melbourne at present, but the company remained committed to its plan to export fresh milk through direct flights from Hobart to Ningbo. “Our intent was to get the direct flights up and running in the first half of 2017. Unfortunately due to some supply chain and regulatory issues in China, that has not yet been achieved, but it remains our intention. In the meantime, we have pushed ahead with the establishment of a VAN Dairy marketing team in Ningbo and VAN Milk – produced on the VDL Farms in Tasmania’s north-west and processed in Hobart – is currently being sold in Ningbo, Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou,” he said. Moon Lake’s sister company VAN Dairy has plans to establish offices in two other Chinese cities in the near future.

31 July 2017, Edition 186

Plant scientist wins Kyoto Prize

Edition 185_Farquhar

Tasmanian plant scientist, Graham Farquhar, AO, has become the first Australian to be awarded a Kyoto Prize.

4 July 2017, Edition 185

Long-term plan to stop fruit fly

Tasmania’s first long-term fruit fly free strategy was released in June in a move to protect export markets valued at $50 million a year, as well as supporting the State’s brand. Existing biosecurity arrangements are working and Tasmania has successfully maintained its international status as an area free of Queensland fruit fly and Mediterranean fruit fly over recent decades. The Premier, Will Hodgman, said: “We need to keep it this way in coming decades in the face of challenges posed by a changing climate and increased tourism and fruit export and import volumes.” The first five-years of the strategy, which has been developed in collaboration with fruit growers and the industry, includes research into the pests’ lifecycle and behaviour under Tasmanian conditions. This data will then be modelled against projected climate change. The strategy also includes developing alternative preventative treatments for fruit fly host material and mitigating risks to Tasmania through a sterile insect program. Copies of Maintaining Tasmania’s freedom from fruit fly: A strategy for the future 2017-2050 is available at: www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au

4 July 2017, Edition 185

Farmers are keen to invest

Two in five farmers in Tasmania are planning to increase investment in their businesses in the coming year, according to a Rabobank survey. This is the strongest investment appetite in the nation, Rabobank Regional Manager for Tasmania, Hamish McAlpin, told Tasmanian Country. He said much of the planned investment related to on-farm infrastructure such as fences, yards, silos and sheds, as well as rebuilding stock numbers. “We are also seeing greater activity in the rural property market, with the survey showing a quarter of those looking to increase investment are considering property purchase,” he said. “And we are seeing farmers starting to look further afield when it comes to purchasing additional blocks of land, rather than just looking at the place next door.” Although farmers’ confidence was dented by a dry autumn, those in Tasmania are still more confident than interstate survey respondents.

4 July 2017, Edition 185

Runaway Cecil grows a 38kg fleece

Cecil, a Tasmanian sheep lost in the bush for several years, has fallen 3kg short of the world record for the heaviest fleece. The very woolly wether underwent a major trim in Launceston in June after being rescued from a cliff ledge in a disused quarry at Heybridge in the north-west. He had been trapped for about a week. The five-year-old went missing from a property near Bothwell in the Central Highlands two years ago, but it’s not known how he travelled the 200km to Heybridge. His 38kg fleece just missed the 41.1kg record set by another stray wether near Canberra two years ago. Cecil’s fleece was wet when shorn and the weight is unofficial. It took shearer Susan Gunter about half an hour to relieve Cecil of his coat — 10 times longer than an average 6kg fleece. “I was surprised that he just sat there,” she said. “Maybe he figured out the game was up and this might help him a lot.”

4 July 2017, Edition 185

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Edition 190_TT-Line

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11 December 2017, Edition 190

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