AGRONOMY CONSULTING SERVICES

 

Our business is focused on assisting you to identify, plan and implement the key management decisions in developing and sustaining your pasture systems.

Pasture Establishment and Management
We will provide you with the latest agronomy technology in pasture improvement, including paddock preparation, pasture selection, establishment methods, weed and pest control, soil fertility management, fertiliser use and grazing management. We can also coordinate and conduct various farm contracting services to add significant value to your pasture programs.

Pasture Landscape Systems
There is a wide range of pasture systems available to match various agricultural land classes, including native pastures, introduced temperate and tropical grass and legume species . We can expertly advise you on the areas within your property which are best suited to each system, and formulate management strategies to sustain these.

Pasture Selection
Through our extensive field and pasture research experience, we can provide you with pasture and forage crop recommendations, as well as our preferred pasture blends for cattle, sheep, dairy or horse enterprises.

Equine Property Development
We are engaged and retained by Australia’s leading thoroughbred studs to design and implement their farm and pasture development programs. We work alongside a vast project team from property owners, to farm managers, architects, building contractors, fencing contractors, irrigation consultant and government agencies to ensure every project is undertaken to the highest professional standard.

Farm Mapping and 5 Year Farm Development Plan
A property map is an integral tool for farm planning. Farm mapping services can be undertaken. After evaluation and mapping of your property, we can provide you with a 5 Year Pasture Development Plan and Budget.

Farm Business Reviews
Financial planning and business performance reviews are an integral part of a commercial farm business. Through our associates, we can arrange these confidential services.

Agricultural Land Use and Capability Assessment
We have extensive experience in undertaking agricultural land use suitability and capability assessment for farm planning and environmental assessment projects. 

Farm Appraisal
We can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in your property or proposed property purchase. We can then provide you with guidelines in regards to farm development and management priorities. We can also carry out a full farm appraisal on a property before purchase.

Legal Support Advice
Legal support and expert witness for agricultural related matters. We can assist your legal team during matters of an agricultural nature. With our extensive agronomic experience we have been engaged on several occasions to provide expert opinions in legal proceedings.

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Here is the historical Annual Rainfall for Scone NSW from 1900 to 2018.
I have prepared a graph showing the years with more or less than 450 mm per annum. Most of our severe droughts recorded less than 450 mm. It clearly shows up all the well known drought years. Obviously the extreme droughts were 350-400 mm per annum range , like is showing for 2017-2018 with the two last red columns.

A year with less than 450 mm will show as a RED column, while those years with more 450 mm as BLUE years.

We have experienced 20 years with less than 450 mm in the last 118 years . So 17% of years in the last 118 years were severe drought years. On the positive side we can expect more 450 mm per annum in 83% of years !

There were only 2 occasions in the last 118 years where we experience 2 consecutive years of less than 450 mm , that was in 1918+1919 , combined total rain 704 mm for this period and now 2017+2018 with a combined total of just 764 mm, virtually 100 years apart. The combination of 2 consecutive years of severe drought really hurts. There were several other periods with very low rainfall which also developed drought conditions.

There is great value in studying our past climate. I acknowledge it is only 118 years of data.
There are some valuable lessons from this graph. These patterns will be applicable to many districts in central and northern NSW.

However, from these graphs for Scone NSW , the following points should be noted.

*Our rainfall is highly variable. As Dorothea Mackellar says “ A land of droughts and flooding rains ! “

* Moderate to Severe droughts are a regular but not dominate feature of our climate, over the last 100 years.

*Our current drought from 2017 to date, is certainly amongst the worst in the last 118 years.

* Over the last 100+ years , most severe droughts appear to run for 1-2 consecutive years but can run for 5-10 years periods, with other lower rainfall periods around them.

* Most of our severe drought periods of 1-2 years, in RED were soon followed by average to above average rainfall year in BLUE. Maybe we will see some relief soon.

*If you look at the very low rainfall period that persisted from 1935-1941 where rainfall was around 450 mm per annum for 7 consecutive years ! Although the probability of several consecutive years (5 years+) of severe drought like conditions , in the last 100 years is very low, we need to acknowledge , it is possible and has happened before .

* If you look at this long term rainfall graph it is very clear, that the period of say 1900 to 1950s was a much drier period than what recent and current generations of farmers have experienced in the last 70 year period. Note the greater frequency of drier periods in RED and the lower peak rainfall events in BLUE ,in the early part of this century. Climatic conditions in the early 1900-1950s were much drier and had a much lower cumulative rainfall pattern, then what has occurred in the more recent 60 years. Our climate of recent times, looks more like what was occurring in the early part of this century. A sobering fact.

* If you look at the peak rainfall events in the BLUE columns, across the table you will note there has been a decline in the frequency of high rainfall/wet years since the very wet times of the 1950s. BUT our annual rainfall events and our total cumulative rainfall , over more recent decades is still better than what was experienced in the 1900-1950 period ! Our climate runs in major cycles. Something to think about !

* One area of concern is that much of our foundation agricultural and pasture research, and our paradigm of agricultural systems for Australia was developed over the last 60 years or so , when our rainfall pattern was better than previous known events. Although it does not seem like it, we have experienced generally a better run of rainfall years in recent decades, than what low rainfall periods Australia is capable of experiencing!

Has these more recent decades of better cumulative rainfall, framed or coloured our view of what we think our climate, water resources, land management as well as what our agricultural and pastoral systems should be ??
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The lack of ground cover on many pasture paddocks due to continued grazing and overgrazing through this extended drought is going to extend many producers drought pain, even when it does rain. Preserving groundcover above 70 % should be one of your drought management policies.

For producers that have some very bare, hard surface pasture paddocks now, or your dedicated sacrifice paddocks, it might be advisable to consider a shallow working with the contour with a narrow tyned cultivator or tyned direct drill seeder. Not applicable to all situations, but may be a benefit to many areas I am seeing. This operation creates some mild surface roughness to slow rainfall runoff, allow better water infiltration and collect surface silt movement. The primary goal is to improve rainfall harvesting in your paddock profile for the surviving pastures or oversown pasture seeds to use during its recovery phase.

The two photos are two identical paddocks, same management, side by side with same slope, same lack of groundcover, same aspect. One untreated, and one treated with narrow tyned cultivator last week before the 25 mm storm rain event on the weekend.

The first picture is the untreated paddock in its overgrazed, bare, drought state after this weekend rain. Note the serious surface soil wash and obvious rainfall runoff/loss. Unfortunately, but to be expected, there was very little water infiltration into the soil surface. Surface soil loss represents a major loss of nutrients and organic matter. 1 mm of topsoil loss over 1 hectare is 10 tonne of soil !! Topsoil loss won't be replaced in our life time.

The second photo shows the huge benefit of implementing some simple soil protection strategies , with narrow tyned cultivator when there is no natural ground cover. Note no wash marks, no soil loss, minimal water loss off paddock , much better and deeper water infiltration very evident, even after this storm.

Drought recovery will be about effective rainfall harvesting. Pastures which have been carefully managed with strong ground cover will recover quicker, be more productive, be stronger and be healthier.
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Stones and rocks on hay or silage making paddocks don't mix , as we all know !! Now might be the time to clean up those paddocks (like our Farm Services Team are doing today) that have more stone than is desired for hay or silage work. Having clean paddocks that can be cut for hay or silage this year could be a major plus given depleted stocks of conserved feed on farm and throughout much of eastern Australia now. Hay will remain a high value product for a while, given this ongoing drought and high demand. Being able to sow a crop in autumn to graze in winter and then maybe make silage or hay in spring could be a high profit strategy. ... See MoreSee Less

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Our Farm Services Team had the pleasure this week of working with Martin and Kriston Feehan to commence their farm development program just outside Scone. Our first stage this week was to cultivate and clean up the surface stone, with our Schulte Rock clearing gear. Hundreds of tonnes of stone were cleaned up leaving these quality basalt soils, smooth and clean in readiness for their future pasture program. ... See MoreSee Less

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March is our preferred month for sowing early winter grazing crops such as Oats, Winter Wheat and forage grasses. . Some clients have asked, "What is the probabilities of various rain amounts in March?" We will be using this information to make decisions on time of sowing and the chances of decent rain to get enough moisture into our fallows, before sowing.
The following table provides you with the probabilities of various amounts of rain in the first half , second half and over the whole month of March , based on the last 120 years data. You can assess your fallows and develop your sowing strategy, for this year. The chances of decent sowing rain events in March are relatively low, but there is a chance, as seen in Table above. With NO subsoil moisture in most fallows, this year, the risks of sowing early or dry sowing are relatively high. Some rainfall models are indicating a good chance of decent rain events in March. Maybe this March will go "rogue" and RAIN ! As previously posted you need to be "Rain Ready"
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