Search

 

Contact Details:

C/- Rural Directions Pty Ltd

Clare SA
Tel (08) 8841 4500
Fax (08) 8842 1766

ARTICLES >> Property Articles

Putting it together at “Etiwanda”

Posted by Bestprac on Oct 14 2009

Mark Gardner, Vanguard Business Services, NSW
On 2 and 3 July 2009 a dozen people undertook a car convoy trip from Coonamble to Cobar and Nyngan as part of the Innovations project.

 


Despite the freezing cold weather, a wonderful trip was had by all.

On the first day we convened at Cobar for lunch and travelled to Andrew and Megan Mosley’s property, some 90km south of Cobar in Western NSW.

The Mosley family properties, Etiwanda and Manuka Stations are over 26,000 hectares and are located near Cobar, in the semi-arid Western Division of NSW. Their business is managed holistically as a family operation, working on balancing social, environmental and economic outcomes, both now and for future generations.
Both Andrew and Megan have been recognised at the highest levels for their work and motivation to rural Australia. Megan was runner up in the 2003 Rural Women’s Award from a field of 150 highly motivated women and Andrew was a runner up in the 2004 inaugural NSW Young Farmers Award for excellence in farming achieving sound environmental, social and financial outcomes.

To commence the visit Andrew and Megan gave us an insight into their management thinking and what shapes their decisions. One highlight of this was the focus that they both have on their Holistic Goal (or Creed) which was prominently displayed on their office wall.

We sat around their well equipped farm office as they gave us a power point display of their management thinking, covering their long term people, land and financial vision and the strategies they are employing to achieve these. It gave us a special insight as to “where they are coming from”.

One thing that stood out was their purpose “to develop an ecologically sound, socially responsible and economically viable farm business”.

Key Points from the Office:

  • Define and document what it is that you want to achieve, and develop a plan to achieve it.
  • Keep educating yourself and learning. Andrew and Megan have a wall full of books and training manuals that have added to their management skills.
  • Do some financial planning (budgeting) and know income and costs for enterprises and the whole farm. Keep costs (and hence risk) low!

We then went out into the paddock.

The first stop was some Pasture Cropped Oats, which had established well into some lighter red country. Pasture Cropping is a technique that has been adapted by Andrew and Megan to their country. They direct drill oats into grassland, thereby creating valuable low cost grazing or a grain crop, as well as renovating perennial grassland by creating surface disturbance and an input of organic matter through the oats. We also inspected some country which was pasture cropped up to 4 years ago, and the amount and diversity of perennial native grasses was impressive.

Pasture cropped oats A close up shows the oats co existing with established perennial native grasses. New perennials are establishing along the drill line.

 

 

 

 

 

Pasture cropped oats A close up shows the oats co existing with established perennial native grasses. New perennials are establishing along the drill line.

Pasture cropped paddock from 2 years ago. You can see perennial grasses which have established in the drill lines. A great low cost grassland regeneration technique

 

 

 

 

 
Pasture cropped paddock from 2 years ago. You can see perennial grasses which have established in the drill lines. A great low cost grassland regeneration technique.


Along the way we also saw some Weston Electric fencing which Andrew and Megan were using for subdivisional fencing, to create additional paddocks. This was a low cost and speedy way to subdivide paddocks, to enable them to introduce planned recovery periods of 150-180 days into their country. The quality of the perennials indicated that this longer recovery period was paying big dividends. The property has a mix of Total Grazing Pressure (TGP) Boundary fencing and three wire electric subdivisional fencing.

A 810mm Weston fence dropper. This is a subdivisional electric fence which has two hot wires and an earth wire. A Weston fence dropper is clipped to the steel post with a single Weston fence dropper between the steel posts. Bottom and top wires are live. This is a cost effective and easy to assemble sub divisional fence for sheep, cattle and goats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 810mm Weston fence dropper. This is a subdivisional electric fence which has two hot wires and an earth wire. A Weston fence dropper is clipped to the steel post with a single Weston fence dropper between the steel posts. Bottom and top wires are live. This is a cost effective and easy to assemble sub divisional fence for sheep, cattle and goats.


Key Points from the Paddock:

  • Holistic Planned Grazing with longer recovery periods (150-180 days) has helped improve ground cover. Diversity in species has also allowed for significant regeneration of perennial grasses to occur. Rough grazing planning is better than none at all!
  • Reducing overgrazing has been important. TGP fencing has helped enable control to be gained over total grazing pressure, and has allowed recovery to be introduced to perennial plants.
  • Pasture cropping can produce a low cost grain crop, low cost winter grazing and can aid in the regeneration of grassland.
  • Focus on the plants first, they provide the input for the stock. Stock are a tool to improve the land, with a handy by product of profit!
  • Adjust animal numbers up and down to suit the feed and land. Having flexibility in enterprise mix is therefore essential.
     

One of the impressive things on Etiwanda was the way in which Andrew and Megan were prepared to work together to make the hard decisions in relation to dry periods and feed. This created some interesting discussions within the group! The Mosely’s are strong believers that when entering dry periods, it is best to look after the grass and land, and they do this by adjusting stock numbers downwards to protect their land. The key point they made was that this should be done early, while stock are in good condition. They have found the differential between selling early and buying back later less than the cost of feeding and a lot easier on the land and the people! They are also prepared to adjust their core numbers upwards if conditions are good, through trading cattle.

Grazing planning has helped them to predict feed ahead, and also where the animals need to be and for how long, in order to get their desired 150-180 days recovery.

Using their own figures, they were able to quote significantly higher stock numbers being carried on their land at each grazing than was previously possible. At the same time, the land was improving and their profit levels were strongly positive. Changing the pattern of grazing was paramount to this.

As Megan pointed out, they were also allowing time for their young family and holidays.

All up we had a great visit with lots of food for thought. What the Mosely’s are doing with their land is amazingly positive. It was obvious to see the difference their management has made, compared to the district. Their county had feed, had more ground cover, more perennials and was the deepest green imaginable. It really stood out.

On our trip home we heard that they have just recently been announced as finalists in the 2009 NSW Farmer of the Year Competition. Well deserved recognition to such great thinkers and innovators.
 

Andrew and Megan Mosely leading the group discussions!


 

 




 

Last changed: Feb 15 2012

Back

Comments

None Found

Add Comment