FARMtalk magazine - September 2021

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PAGES 12-13


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October Edition: September 24, 2021

Cash injection for Pollack Western Murray Land Improvement Group’s application for $50,000 to undertake 47ha of further revegetation work in the Koondrook-Perricoota Forest has been successful.

November Edition: October 29, 2021 December/January Edition: November 26, 2021 February Edition: January 28, 2022 March Edition: February 25, 2022 April Edition: March 25, 2022 May Edition: April 29, 2022 June Edition: May 27, 2022 August Edition: July 29, 2022 September Edition: August 26, 2022

Leesa Muir


Zoe McMaugh



he Pollack Wetland Biodiversity Enhancement Project will enhance the floodplain riparian woodland, and in particular the Pollack Swamp Flora Reserve. This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s Murray-Darling Healthy Rivers Program Small Grants. WMLIG executive officer Roger Knight said revegetation work is scheduled to commence next autumn. “This additional funding helps in creating momentum and supporting an existing project which will assist in delivering the community’s vision for their forest,” Mr Knight said. “It’s a great example of how a bottom-up approach can lead to tangible outcomes. “The group will continue to pursue funding opportunities to ensure that further biodiversity enhancements can take place in the forest.” The Pollack is a 700ha flora reserve which forms part of the Koondrook-Perricoota Forest, and falls within the Gunbower Koondrook-Perricoota Forest — an internationally protected Ramsar-listed icon site.

It is located on the country of the Barapa Barapa First Nations people and contains rich archaeological evidence of Aboriginal occupation. The project will enhance biodiversity via the provision of eight locally native under-story plant species that will support the existing open woodland upper-story species of River Redgum and Black Box. In doing so, WMLIG says vital connectivity between the terrestrial and riparian areas of the Pollack wetland will be enhanced. It will be critical for many fauna species, particularly resident bird species, including Gilbert’s Whistler, a notable species recorded at the Pollack. “Revegetating the woodlands with the use of shrubs not only improves the habitat available for threatened and significant species but increases the complexity of habitat, attracting insect eating birds helping keep the overstory healthy,” the group said. “The project will build upon the work from other projects that WMLIG has conducted at the site in partnership with Murray Local Land Services, Forestry Corporation of NSW, Moama Local Aboriginal Land Council, the Barapa Barapa

Nicole Fraser

Greg Dickinson

Jenny Binion

John Thompson

Ged Munro

Rebecca Flisher








Information contained in this magazine is presented only after being carefully researched. However, there are differences in state and regional regulations and conditions. Farmers are asked to check with their own advisors. FARMtalk can assume no responsibility for the contents.


FARMtalk • 3

people, and Murrakool Land for Wildlife to maintain and improve the condition of the Pollack. “For example, this project aligns closely with the ongoing Murray LLS Pollack Wetland Enhancement Project which is in its fourth year. “This project has been a catalyst for wider community engagement and resulted in a community vision for the Koondrook-Perricoota Forest which is ‘A healthy working forest where native species can flourish, and where local communities can connect and co-manage the forest for future generations’.” For more information about the current Pollack Swamp Enhancement Project, please visit Top: Local Landcare Coordinator Stacey Brooke, WMLIG project officers Rick Ellis and Leigh Fletcher. Right: WMLIG executive officer Roger Knight, environmental consultant Dan Hutton and WMLIG project officer Rick Ellis.





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4 • FARMtalk

Historically productive The Gillett family has been running a successful family farming operation from the historic Jerilderie property Wunnamurra since the 1960s. They attribute their longevity to their ability to adapt and embrace technological advancements.


n 2021, the Gilletts have taken on two new projects — one which aims to improve their Poll Dorset sheep operation and one designed to enhance the property’s environmental importance. Through embryo transfer, Andrew Gillett said they are looking to replicate the genetic merit of their best ram — one which was also ranked the highest in Australia. “With our stud sheep we’ve been doing a genetic evaluation program called Lambplan for over 20 years. “It records pedigree information, birth weights, weaning weights and eye muscle and fat data. “We’ve also used artificial insemination as well, but this year is the first time we’ve tried embryo transfer (ET). “One of our older rams here was the highest ranking terminal ram in Australia, with the greatest intramuscular fat of any ram and an eating quality score as high as anyone has seen. “He is now deceased and we don’t have a lot of his semen left. “ET is a more targeted program. “We have selected 12 ewes based on their merits. We also used a program called Matesel to predict breeding values of the progeny, but after that it’s up to the animal to perform. “This has all been new to us and it was a significant investment, so when the lambs were born in a wet and cold period in mid-June we were a little apprehensive.

“It’s all going fine though, and by the time they are six months old we’ll have weaning and post weaning weights, eye muscle data and DNA testing results. “If the traits line up we’ll have more of an idea of whether we’ve been able to replicate the eating quality values of that high testing ram.” At the same time, an environmental project with the aim to support more bird and wildlife on Wunnamurra is beginning. Andrew said the aim is to add to the vegetation on the property, by propagating trees that were once prevalent there. “We already have a lot of tree stands, over 300 acres, but the idea is to increase biodiversity. “We’ve been going to a lot of field days with native seeds specialist Martin Driver in the last 12 to 18 months, and we’re working with him on a re-vegetation plan. “We’ll be surveying what trees and species we already have here, and what might be here in smaller numbers that we might be able to increase. ANDREW GILLETT “It will include looking at the best locations for that planting. The idea is to have productive land working alongside the natural environment. “We already have a pretty expansive swamp on the property, which take up at least 10 per cent of the property. It fills with rain some years or is filled by us for environmental purposes in others. “It is home to a multitude of bird life, including black swans which return every year for nesting.

“A lot of farmers have these wetlands and animal habitats on their farms — we’re looking after the environment but that largely goes unnoticed, especially when it comes to water policy decisions.”


“We’ve also had a few small groups of brolgas. “A lot of farmers have these wetlands and animal habitats on their farms — we’re looking after the environment but that largely goes unnoticed, especially when it comes to water policy decisions.” Wunnamurra was first settled in the 1840s and was originally a very large pastoral holding running Merino sheep on the flat Riverina plains. It was cut up many times, the last being in the 1950s when irrigation was introduced and developed in the area. The property still has a number of buildings that were built around 1900 including brick shearers’ quarters, brick workers’ quarters, brick stable, and remnants of the homestead and outbuildings. The property even has a connection to the bushranger Ned Kelly, who visited the property not long after the siege in which he wrote the infamous Jerilderie letter. According to Keith McMenomy’s book Ned Kelly: The Authentic Illustrated Story, Ned Kelly and his gang passed through the property on Monday, February 10, 1879. The Kelly Gang visited Jerilderie in order to rob the Bank of NSW and, more importantly to Ned, to get a personal account of his life published at the printing press in the town — known as the 56 page Jerilderie Letter. The gang ended up with £2141 and a promise that the letter would be published. As the gang rode out of town, they visited Wunnamurra station in a bit of a panic and accosted the station manager A Mackie, the brother of the bank assistant who the gang suspected of giving horses to the bank managers Living and Tarleton who subsequently rode off to Deniliquin to raise the alarm. Ned declared he would shoot Mackie’s brother and burn down the homestead in retribution. They continued on to the homestead and after talking to the store manager, Ned realised he was wrong and that the horses did not come from Wunnamurra. After requesting a glass of water and speaking to the station people for a bit, the gang continued south through the property on their way home. The present day Wunnamurra spans 2500 acres, and Andrew is the third generation of his family to manage the property. “This part of the property is where the original homestead and all the original outbuildings were located, and probably placed here because of the swamp and natural water course. “My grandfather George brought his family to Wunnamurra in the 1960s from Moriac, near Geelong, so this is where my dad Ian grew up. “Dad lived in the original homestead, but it had to be demolished because it was beyond repair. “That’s why we’re refurbishing the old stables now. They date back to 1880 and we see it as a part of this property’s history and legacy. “George passed the farm to his sons Ian and Alan, and now it has passed to me. I manage the farm with support from my mum Judy and my partner Annabel Lugsdin.”


FARMtalk • 5

The Poll Dorsets that Wunnamurra is famous for were introduced to the property by Ian, who started the stud in 1987. “Initially it was to breed rams for himself, but overtime it has grown to be a substantial flock,” Andrew said. “In the past we would sell rams privately, and it was in 2002 we had our first on property ram sale. “We’ve been building that ever since, and more rapidly in the last five years. “We’ve always enjoyed the challenge of breeding sheep. Helping other farmers achieve their production goals with our rams is also really rewarding. “We started the stud with 200 breeding ewes, and now we have 550. We also have a commercial flock of Merinos of about 600, plus the progeny of each of those. “We also have a drop of 220 rams for sale. “Being on irrigation land, Wunnamurra is suited more to lamb production than wool. And as meat sheep, Poll Dorsets seemed the best way to get a return from high value pastures.” ■ Wunnamurra’s annual ram sale will be held at the Jerilderie property on Thursday, September 16. View the sale catalogue at au or call Andrew on 0429 660 584. Photo credit: Bel’s Rural Photography.



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FARMtalk • 7

Not just good at wine The DeBortoli Wines farm in Bilbul, NSW is obviously most renowned for what it can achieve with grapes.


2021 Rice Industry Awards: RGA Darrell Fiddler... SunRice C21 Grower of the Year.

ut the farm’s team has proved it can also produce other quality products, with farm manager Darrell Fiddler named the C21 SunRice Grower of the

Year. Mr Fiddler was bestowed the honour at the 2021 Rice Industry Awards presentation on August 12. The annual awards, now in the third year, are designed to showcase the best in the rice growing business and highlight innovation in production and irrigation methods, as well as in water efficiency. Rice Extension Officer Harriet Brickhill said it was Mr Fiddler’s innovative approach to farming and a commitment to sustainability caught the judges’ attention. He grows rice as a part of a rotation with other irrigated summer crops and winter cereals. He has demonstrated a strong focus on improving his water productivity through management, having successfully automated the irrigation for a Viand crop in crop year 2021.” Mr Fiddler attributes the operation’s strong yields, productivity and sustainability to improved agronomy practices. These include variable rate fertiliser application, sod sowing and minimal tillage, double or triple cropping, and implementing a rotation including wheat and other summer crops. “Using permanent tracks for spraying and spreading of fertiliser means that we can be really timely and efficient. Being on time with all our operations is very important for rice, and planning is key to that timeliness.” Mr Fiddler expressed his appreciation on being awarded the title. “I’ve always been motivated by the phrase ‘always strive to do better’, and winning this award is a humbling experience because it’s industry recognition of all the hard work myself and the team have put into the farming operations over the last 12 years. “We tend to just get on with the job, so it has been a great opportunity to stop and reflect on our operation and feedback from the judges has been valuable.”

Ms Brickhill noted that Mr Fiddler had demonstrated a commitment to excellence in all aspects of rice growing. He has adopted numerous practices to increase water efficiency, including the aerobic rice trial with Deakin University 2021 which involves automation and moisture monitoring to optimise water use efficiency. Mr Fiddler has also delayed permanent water since 2012, which has reduced his water use by 30 per cent compared to his aerial sown crops. “We have very much appreciated the support of Matt Champness of Deakin Uni in working with us to successfully implement automation and help us achieve excellent water efficiencies — maximising ‘crop per drop’”, Mr Fiddler said. A SunRice Grower of the Year Field Day is scheduled to be held at Bilbul on Thursday, December 9 to showcase Mr Fiddler’s farming practices. The C21 SunRice Grower of The Year Award was judged by a panel of three, including two industry representatives and one independent judge. The panel assessed applications based on eight key areas including: production and agronomy, water use efficiency, innovation and technology, business management, sustainability, work health & safety, and industry and community involvement. The two other finalists in this category - Michael and Belinda Gorey of Moulamein, and Sara and Daryl Hall of Moulamein also impressed the judges and are to be congratulated. The SunRice Grower of the Year winner receives an impressive package to further support to their business, including $2500 to be spent on personal or business development and nomination for the Australian Farmer of the Year Award (Kondinin Group).

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David’s rice honour

FARMtalk • 9

Third generation Coleambally ricegrower David Brain has been made an Honorary Councillor of the Ricegrowers Association of Australia.


r Brain was bestowed the honour at the RGA’s annual general meeting on August 12. The Honorary Councillor award recognises an “exceptional positive and ongoing contribution to the Australian rice industry with nominees demonstrating a commitment to the industry through outstanding service or leadership over a period of 10 years or more”. Mr Brain sowed his first crop at just 17, in 1978. “I got a lot of tips from my father and my older brother,” Mr Brain said. The Brain family worked together on the family farm, which Mr Brain has since incorporated. He now operates four rice farms in Coleambally and says that though “a lot has changed”, he still uses that same advice and guidance he received all those years ago. Mr Brain served as RGA Coleambally’s branch president for 12 years from 2002 until 2013, having first joined the organisation in 1979.

2021 Rice Industry Awards: Ricegrowers Association of Australia president Rob Massina (left) with Tonetta and David Brain at the rice industry awards on Thursday.

He has continued to be an asset to the community since. “It’s not that I went for these positions, it’s just that no-one else put their hand up,” he said. “That’s how Coly was built, and I’m no different from anyone else.” No different or not, the RGA believes Mr Brain is certainly deserving of the Honorary Councillor award. “The RGA team and entire rice industry thank and congratulate David on his outstanding and meritorious service to the rice industry,” the RGA said.

Yield recognition The 2021 Rice Industry Award also recognised growers who yielded more than 13.7t/ha across their whole farm business. Rice Extension Officer Harriet Brickhill said these results were no accident as they were “achieved by exceptional managers who sowed on time and did everything right to pull off a great yield even in tough conditions where we experienced cold conditions during the growing season”. Winners of the Highest Yield Award were Nathan and Kylie Ceccato of Yenda, with a yield of 13.95t/ha for their Reiziq crop over 99ha. This represents a lift of 18 per cent over the long-term average for the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. The Ceccatos were closely followed by four other exceptional growers, with less than 0.2t/ha separating the yields: ● Guiseppe and Katie Napoli of Leeton, who grew a 13.93t/ha Reiziq crop over 70ha. ● Phil, Rosanna, Jim and Lyn Atkinson of Yenda, who grew a 13.85t/ha Reiziq crop over 187ha.

2021 Rice Industry Awards: Nathan and Kylie Ceccato, with David Bardos.

● Raymond and Maria McCaw of Finley, who grew a 13.8t/ha Reiziq crop over 36ha. ● Ian and Sheree Parisotto of Yenda, who grew a 13.78t/ha Reiziq crop over 69ha. “It must be noted that the McCaws’ results are exceptional given the crop was grown in the eastern Murray Valley, which has historically lower yield potential,” Ms Brickhill said. “In fact, the McCaws’ crop yielded 142 per cent above the long-term average for the area. “Grower of the Year finalists Belinda and Michael Gorey also yielded 13.3t/ha of Reiziq across an area of 118ha, representing an increase of 129 per cent over long-term average for the western Murray Valley. “This year we saw the potential of the new variety VO71 which, as it has yet to be released, was not included in the formal awards but Andrew Cameron of Wilbriggie managed a yield of over 15t/ha using this variety.”

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Reducing risk of poor rice yields I was speaking recently with a rice grower from the western Murray Valley who was bitterly disappointed with his rice yields last season. In hindsight, he thinks that his crop was too late getting to panicle initiation (P.I.), probably over-fertilised, possibly too thick and his water wasn’t deep enough at microspore.


e will be growing rice again this season and needs to ensure a good result. My concern is that he, like many other growers, may overreact to last season to the detriment of his next crop. In my experience, the previous year’s situation is uppermost in growers’ minds when planning the next season. An over-reaction to last season may lead to the crop being: • sown too early – which can increase the risk of cold damage at microspore • under-fertilised at permanent water - which irreversibly limits its yield potential. Sowing time: NSW Department of Primary Industries has published growing guides for each rice variety that indicate the recommended sowing times. Importantly, in most years, sowing too early can lead to a greater risk of cold damage than sowing marginally late. We don’t know when the best time will be to sow your crop this season. We do know, however, that if you sow within the recommended period each year, you will encounter less cold damage than if you always sow earlier (or later) than recommended. The aim of sowing within the recommended window is to have crops reach panicle P.I. in early January and microspore (the cold sensitive period) in late January to early February. Cold night temperatures are more common in early to mid-January than in late January and early February. Sowing too early increases the risk of cold damage. Fertiliser rates: Rice growers know that excess nitrogen increases the cold sensitivity of their crops. Many had well-grown crops last season that failed to yield, so are considering reducing the nitrogen rate this season. The danger with this approach is that lowering initial urea rates too much will irreversibly limit the crop’s yield potential. Mid-season top dressing at P.I. can effectively top-up the nitrogen in crops but cannot make up for significant nitrogen deficiencies. The aim is to have a nitrogen uptake at P.I. of at least 100kg/ha. Crops with less nitrogen uptake at this stage cannot fully recover, and their yield will be reduced compared to crops with adequate P.I. nitrogen. If your initial nitrogen rates have been excessive so that P.I. nitrogen uptake is greater than 150kg/ha, then certainly reduce them to more moderate levels. However, if they have been correct in previous seasons, then do not reduce them significantly.


FARMtalk • 11

Seeding rates: Watching a good, thick stand of rice emerge and establish is very satisfying. However, objective data has shown that crops do not need to be as thick as most growers like them to be. An even plant stand as low as 50 plants/m2 will not suffer any loss of yield potential. However, I am not suggesting that you aim for plant populations this low, but aiming for a stand of about 150 to 200 plants/m2 is adequate. Sowing to achieve thicker plant stands does not benefit and may, in cold seasons, be a disadvantage. Sowing Reiziq at 150kg/ha sows about 500 seeds/m2, which is not needed. If only 50 per cent of these seeds establish, the crop will still be much thicker than required. Most of the rice growers that I know don’t count seedlings at establishment time (some do), they just eyeball the crop to see if it looks adequate. However, it is well worthwhile doing establishment counts to re-calibrate your eye. Maintain rice banks: Deep water at microspore is essential to minimising cold damage. The grower I spoke with admitted that he had not measured the effective bank height last season nor topped them up prior to sowing his crop. His banks then failed in January when he attempted to increase water depth. Rice bank maintenance is essential and hopefully has already been undertaken for the coming season. However, if it has been overlooked, there is still a small window of opportunity to address it. Conclusion: Last season was abnormally cold and led to many disappointments. We are unlikely to have a repeat of those conditions this season, but every Murray Valley grower (especially those in western Murray Valley) needs to manage their crop to minimise the impact of the mild cold that can impact every season. This is best achieved by: • sowing on time • using the optimum fertiliser rates • avoiding crops that are too thick • applying deep water (at least 25 cm on the high side of the bay), at microspore.

John Fowler is senior lands services officer – extension agronomist with Murray Local Land Services.

Rice yields: Cold affected Reiziq panicles.

Rice yields: Measuring rice banks.

Rice yields: Line level


12 • FARMtalk

Emus rock

When Ian and Marilyn Marston established their farm at The Rock in the early 1990s, they knew they did not have the space available to become millionaires on cattle or sheep.


ith only 100 acres at their disposal they had to think out of the box. How could they make the land as profitable as it could be? That’s when Marrocka Emu Farm was born. “We can tell you now you can’t become a millionaire with emus either, but we’re doing what we want to do,” Ian said with a laugh. The Marstons’ emus are farmed for their oil, but they have value added to their farming operation by opening up to tour groups. And another value add starting this year is to take the surplus egg yolks and whites blown from eggs sold as souvenirs, and sell it to restaurants. “An average emu egg centre would weigh between 500g and 600g — that’s an entire dozen chook eggs,” Ian said. “They are so big that my wife and I only need half an egg to make an omelette to share for breakfast. “We started freezing the centres, and a few Italian restaurants are buying them in to use when making pasta and cakes. “We only starting doing that this year, and it is going alright.

“Over our consortium of farms we would produce 50 tonnes of emu oil and we would be 50 tonnes short of orders — we sell as much as we can produce.” IAN MARSTON

“They taste more like a duck egg than a chook egg, a little bit richer. “Because we only supply to a few restaurants, we do have some surplus frozen centres if anyone

would like to buy some for themselves and give it a try.” The Marstons moved to the property at The Rock in 1993, and they received their first emus a year later. After intensive investment, they now have a fairly solid breeding program in place. “We started with about 50 adult emus, and we started breeding from there. “We bred up to 300 on the property, with an average of 50 breeders and 150 for market. “We now have 350 on board, and another 400 being hatched now. “The return is about $3500 per acre. In those terms it is worth it, but it does take a fair bit to get established.” As the farm was being established Ian was still working full time in the military, which he said was the only way he could afford to set up the farm. He has since retired to give the farm his undivided attention, although he requires assistance from a few casual staff to get the work done. “You need incubators, hatchers, brooders, specialised loading ramps and yards,” he said. “And then there are two people in the industry with specialised semis (trucks) for carting.


“It takes a while to get 12kg to 15kg of oil out of a bird. “When we first started you would have to keep a bird for three years to get that sort of return but now, particularly now the drought is over, we can get a good return on birds 18 months old. “That means we can double our holding capacity, which is good economically. “With the drought over, if you can get them on good pastures they will fatten up quicker.” The eggs start appearing from about May 1, with the cooler weather vital for fertility. They take between 60 and 50 days to hatch, with the breeding season finishing about September. And that’s why Ian says the best time to book a tour of Marrocka Emu Farm is from September to March. “That’s when you have the chicks on the ground, and there’s far more to see,” he said. “The tour takes about 40 minutes and covers the stages from the incubation of chicks to adult breeding and a talk on the industry history. Morning, afternoon tea and lunch available on request. “We’re still offering tours as long as COVID-19 restrictions allow, and we have had some booked but they are being cancelled as the dates get closer.” The tourism side of the business was launched in the early 2000s, when demand for emu oil and emu products dipped. “A friend in the industry helped us make some connections with tour operators, and so we’ve had Dutch visitors, Chileans, visitors from Kansas University and China too.” The emu oil demand picked up again in about 2010, but the Marstons kept their farm open to tourists to keep the income rolling in. The emu oil industry in Australia is still relatively new, starting only 30 years ago. Ian said as a result the industry is still finding its feet, and is yet to be fully appreciated by the domestic market. “Emu oil contains the element K2 MK-4 which is very potent in boosting the immunity system,” he said, “Over our consortium of farms we would produce 50 tonnes of emu oil and we would be 50 tonnes short of orders — we sell as much as we can produce.

“Emu farming used to be a hobby farm, but now it’s a bigger industry. We would like to develop it even further, but because we’re all private farmers there’s not a lot of assistance out there for us.” IAN MARSTON

“But it is mostly exported. It is particularly in demand in China, and in America. “We don’t chase the meat market because there is not much of a market for it.” Some products the Marstons’ emu oil is used in is available to purchase at their farm, or they can direct you to the suppliers if you wish to buy direct from them. Emu oil is rendered from the bird after it has been through an abattoir. In the early days, each farmer was responsible for producing and selling their products. But Ian said that is changing as the industry matures. “Now farmers will sell to a renderers, who will then sell on to a re-seller. “Emu farming used to be a hobby farm, but now it’s a bigger industry. “We would like to develop it even further, but because we’re all private farmers there’s not a lot of assistance out there for us.” If you would like to purchase emu egg centres from Marrocka Emu Farm, or book a tour of the farm, contact Ian on 0429 202 453.


FARMtalk • 13

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Vaccinations an antidote to border closures I know a lot of you are reluctant about having a Covid-19 vaccination. This is understandable. There’s been a lot of scary stories in the media. I’ve had a good look at the research and the risks are miniscule. But the benefits are enormous. Getting vaccinated reduces the chances the virus will spread. Crucially, it also reduces the likelihood of future NSW-Victoria border closures, which have been devastating on our communities. I’m now fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca. I had minimal side effects and now feel great. Please consider getting your Covid-19 vaccine. For more information on where to get your vaccine in the NSW Murray region, go to my website Regards Helen Dalton MP for Murray Authorised by Helen Dalton MP, Funded using Parliamentary Entitlements.



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FARMtalk • 15

Business grant changes Navigating all the changes with Coronavirus rules and restrictions is hard enough, and then there’s the grants and payments for businesses and individuals. The team at Brian McCleary & Co Accountants in Deniliquin provides the following advice for businesses.


hings have changed for the better in terms of applying for the Job Saver and Microbusiness Grants. It’s a big relief, as many small businesses were not clear on eligibility until the change.

COVID business Grant:

If headcount drops, you must notify Services NSW.

If you have no employees and are claiming $1,000 per week, the business must be your primary source of income.

Your employees can get hardship payments if you get Job Saver (but their hours must have been reduced by the required amount). Highly impacted business (go to for the full list) with wages under $25,000 per week need to provide: details of your accountant; copy of 2020 tax return; evidence of your weekly payroll that is being claimed; and endorse relevant declarations on impact the lockdown has caused. All other businesses need to privide a letter from their accountant in addition to the list required for highly impacted businesses.

On first read, the COVID Business Grant terms for eligibility have not changed, and many local businesses will need to direct their focus to Job Saver and the Microbusiness Grant.

Job Saver: What is Job Saver? •

A subsidy payment for 40 per cent of your payroll. Minimum $1,500 and maximum $100,000 per week.

If you have no employees, or you are a sole trader/partnership, then its $1,000 per week.

You need to have lodged the March and June 2021 BAS.

Does not include your staff based in other states.

Unlike Job Keeper, there are no top up payments required for staff. You only need pay staff for the hours they’re working.

Payments will be backdated to when the decline in turnover is met. Earliest this can be is July 18. The earlier the better, but for many this will when the lockdown kicked in regional NSW. Eligibility

You’ve got an ABN.

Turnover is between $75,000 and $50 million for the 2020 year.

You have seen at least a 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to the Public Health Order (lockdown).

Your decline in turnover is to measure at least two weeks since 26 June versus: Same period in 2019 or same period in 2020, or the turnover for the fortnight of June 12 to 25. Turnover for most businesses will be on money received, not invoiced. It’s the same method as how you prepare a BAS. Not for profits have some different rules in measuring decline in turnover.

You will maintain the same number of staff held at July 13.

Other important bits •

Applications close October 18, 2021.

If you’ve already applied for the Business Grant, if eligible for the grant, you should automatically be eligible for Job Saver. There will be additional information to provide around payroll. You may hear from Services NSW directly.

You may not be eligible for the Business Grant, but can still be eligible for Job Saver.

You will need the log in details for Services NSW, your driver’s licence and Medicare card.

Microbusiness Grant: This is very similar to Job Saver, but for businesses with turnover less than $75,000. The subsidy is $750 per week. To apply for Job Saver, go to To apply for the Microbusiness Grant, go to transaction/2021-covid-19-micro-business-grant. ■ If you require assistance, or need other financial advice, call the team at Brian McCleary & Co Accountants in Deniliquin on (03) 5881 7999 or email


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Healthy water leads to healthy livestock! Providing adequate amounts of good quality water is the number one priority for livestock producers.

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FARMtalk • 17


oor quality water can reduce productivity and compromise livestock health, whilst inadequate supply or flow can be even more devastating. Livestock will require extra water when: • they are large or lactating • they are feeding on dry feed or saltbush • the drinking water is saline • the weather is hot The quality of the water consumed by livestock also needs to be considered. There are many factors which will influence water quality, including: • Salinity • pH • Nutrient imbalances (especially nitrogen, phosphorus, chloride, iron etc) • Blue green algae • Faecal contamination and pathogens • Toxic residues and compounds • Water temperature • Turbidity So as we move from spring into the hotter months, producers should review the NSW DPI Primefact ‘Water requirements for sheep and cattle’ to obtain a better understanding of their livestock’s water requirements – https://www.dpi. If you are unsure or concerned about the quality of your farm water supplies, obtain a water sample and get it tested. There are numerous private laboratories which can test your water – alternatively, your Local Land Services (LLS) or NSW DPI offices have water test kits available to assist.

How can water quality impact livestock performance? Australian work on the subject is surprisingly limited. Studies from around the world document improved livestock performance where good quality water is available. Evidence suggests that livestock consuming good quality water can have production 10-25 per cent higher than if they were drinking poor quality water. Dry matter intake is highly correlated to water consumption - that is, the more an animal drinks, the more it tends to eat (and vice versa). For example, one study reported that yearling heifers with access to clean water gained 23 per cent more weight than heifers with access to dam water only. It was also found that when dam water was pumped to a trough, it was preferred over the dam water, suggesting that cattle might prefer to drink from a trough and avoid entering a dam. Improved hydration can also lead to greater uptake of minerals and nutrients – improving animal health and performance. Apart from the direct impacts on productivity, animals drinking contaminated or poor quality water may be more prone to disease and infection, resulting in poorer general health. Liver fluke is one such problem – one which can also affect human health. Stock water can often be fouled by livestock themselves, native animals or runoff from surrounding areas – hot weather, low water levels and minimal water movement tend to worsen the problem. Stock (and other animals) can become bogged and even die in dams – the benefits in reducing these risks are obvious. This all suggests there is considerable potential to improve livestock performance through the provision of good quality water.

Healthy water: Providing livestock with good quality water has important animal health and productivity benefits.

the water source. There may be other benefits too, such as reduced production of green house gases. Longer term, you may consider a piped stock water, supplied through troughs coupled with some on-farm storage and/or groundwater supply. It could also involve providing more watering points than you have now, to better utilise paddock feed, reduce livestock walking and better conserve groundcover. There are a range of different options to consider, and many variables to think about, not the least of which is capital cost. However, the benefit is a more secure, reliable and improved quality water supply system can provide, not only to your livestock but also to your own piece of mind, should not be under-estimated.

What assistance may be available? A number of current programs are worth considering if you are contemplating capital investment in water infrastructure. These include: 1. Farm Innovation Fund - the NSW Government is offering a loan scheme for capital works up to a value of $250,000 for infrastructure works (including water storage and infrastructure) to prepare for dry conditions, to build resilience and improve on-farm efficiency ( 2. On-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate 2 - the Australian and NSW Governments are offering a rebate to producers who invest in on-farm water infrastructure. Farmers will be able to access a 25% rebate on new purchases and installation costs of water infrastructure projects on-farm across NSW to help them better prepare for future dry conditions. This is administered through the NSW Rural Assistance Authority ( 3. Regional Investment Corporation Low Interest Loans - the Australian Government is offering low interest loans to help farmers prepare for, manage through and recover from drought (including water infrastructure) - https://www. Landholders are encouraged to go to the NSW DroughtHub website (https://, or contact Local Land Services or your local Rural Financial Counsellor for further information.

What can you do to improve water supply and its quality? Given the consequences of poor quality water on animal health and production, now is as good a time as any to start implementing a plan to improve your farm’s water supply. In the short term, you might consider how to improve the quality of runoff into any dams or waterways. This may include installation of silt and sediment traps, which aim to slow the flow of water and trap debris and soil before it reaches a watercourse or dam. If runoff does enter your water supply and starts to cause problems, aeration is often one of the best ways to improve the quality and increase palatability. The addition of barley straw may also help improve water quality. Consider fencing off your dam’s to restrict livestock access – this will not only help improve water quality, but also improve the biodiversity and habitat value of

Adrian Smith (pictured) is senior lands services officer — mixed farming with Murray Local Land Services.

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FARMtalk • 19

Diarrhoea in sheep and lambs The most common enquiry lately is about scouring sheep, particularly lambs. We have seen issues in weaned lambs and lambs at foot, sometimes with fatal consequences.


ost often, worms are the cause. While producers out west often don’t have much of a worm issue, this year seems to be an exception. Worm egg counts have been coming back with very high numbers, some over 1,000 eggs per gram. The two most common types of worms found locally are the black scour worm (‘trichs’) and the brown stomach worm (ostertagia). These worms cause a decrease in appetite of affected sheep and change the ability of the gut to absorb nutrients. This can result in a loss of protein, energy and minerals such as phosphorous and calcium. The associated dag that accompanies scouring is also a major risk factor for flystrike. Sheep pick up worms as they graze pasture. The highest risk period for sheep picking up scour worms is generally in late winter/early spring, before there is a good wedge of feed in the paddock. Worm larvae tend to be found in the bottom 5cm of the pasture, so once the pasture grows and becomes taller, each mouthful is less likely to contain a worm. To help determine if a sheep has a worm problem you can use a worm test such as a worm egg count. Once a sheep has worms, the most efficient way to get rid of them is to give an effective drench. Usually this means a combination drench that has at least three different active ingredients, or one of the newer generation drenches, such as Startect or Zolvix. If you don’t know what drenches are effective on your farm, you should consider doing a drench check. This involves doing a worm test before drenching and another 14 days after drenching. Full details on how to do a drench check can be found at If drenching cross-bred lambs bound for market, keep in mind the withhold period when selecting a drench.

Other causes of scouring include bacterial infections such as salmonella and yersinia. Infection can occur in a couple of ways. The bacteria can be found in the gut of healthy sheep. Sometimes when stressed, particularly due to time off food, the bacteria can overgrow and be shed by carrier animals. These bacteria can then contaminate food or water sources, which allows other susceptible sheep to ingest them and get sick. Sometimes the bacteria come from other species such as mice contaminating feed, or ducks contaminating water sources. While antibiotics may help to control an outbreak, treatment may not always be effective. Preventative measures such as limiting stress - by limiting the time lambs are off food and ensuring good worm control - are the best way to reduce the risk of infection. Diarrhoea can also be caused by coccidiosis. This is mainly an issue where lambs are run under crowded conditions, particularly if there is water lying around. Good immunity usually develops after exposure, which is why adult sheep are less likely to be affected. Outbreaks can sometimes be controlled by moving the lambs to a clean environment, although treatment with sulphonamides is sometimes necessary. Infection is usually worse if the lambs are light in condition or have another issue such as worms. Whether you are raising prime lambs for market or your next generation of breeding sheep, it is vital to ensure that lambs are surviving and thriving, for both your farm and your bottom line. Getting on top of issues early, good nutrition and monitoring worm egg counts are all ways of ensuring that your lambs have the best chance possible. If you are having issues with scouring lambs or any other issues, you can call your local district vet to chat about the issue or arrange for a disease investigation to occur. Linda Searle (pictured) is district veterinarian with Murray Local Land Services.

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Agriculture is driven by unpredictable weather and markets, but despite ongoing uncertainty, there is a way to farm that generates profit, builds a legacy and involves less stress. But this success ultimately comes down to you. In the new book, Crops People Money & You: The Art of Excellent Farming (and Better Returns), agricultural scientist and Think Agri founder Kate Burke draws upon extensive experience to provide an accessibly written, relatable and practical guide on how to build a robust and profitable farm business that survives any economic conditions. FARMtalk has 2 copies of the book to giveaway. For your chance to win, email your name, address and contact details to Entries will be drawn Friday, September 25.

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FARMtalk • 21

Productivity drives profits Grain markets are buoyant for most commodities at present and crop yield potential is good in most places. The desire to make good grain selling decisions and capitalise on the opportunities can be stressful.


ow many times have you told yourself the following? “I’m not as good at this as I should be. What if I miss out on the high price? I sold too early. I sold too late.” Its anxiety inducing and fair enough too! There are hundreds of thousands, or millions, of dollars at stake. You feel a lot of pressure to get it right, especially if you believe price drives profit. Price may not be as critical as you think. Comprehensive farm business research indicates grain yield produced per mm of available water, and the individual characteristics of the farm business itself, such as fixed cost structures, labour efficiency and variable costs, have a greater influence on profit than grain price received. Why does productivity matter more?

you manage your paddocks are all decisions within your control.

It’s partly due to simple maths. Grain yields vary much more between seasons than price does in most dryland regions. The larger the yield potential, the more influence of productivity on revenue compared to grain price. In lower-yielding regions <2.5 t/ha, price is more important than higher yield areas

Most farms have multiple crop types and may also have a grazing enterprise. The more crop and enterprise types, the less influence any one commodity will have. The exception to the rule is in lower rainfall areas or areas where soil type might restrict crop choice to two or less species.

Commodity prices are heavily influenced by factors beyond our control like exchange rates, tariffs, world supply, droughts in major grain producing countries. Grain marketing veteran Ron Storey estimates that even best grain sellers only achieve $20 to $30/t more than their less-skilled peers. It is difficult for an individual to influence the price.

5. Chasing price may constrain the main revenue lever

Slight tweaks to the rotation when one commodity is in a pricing crisis makes sense. Making big changes because of pricing can compromise crop agronomy and production potential.

Increasing productivity adds to both lines of the profit equation to increase profit margin. It creates more tonnes to sell, increasing revenue and lowers the cost of production (total costs/ total tonnes).

You can achieve profit making prices with less stress

It’s still important to strive toward a price that provides a strong profit margin for each crop type. Here’s how to do that with less stress.

3. You have more control over productivity than price

7. Accept what’s in your control

You can’t make it rain but can influence how much grain is produced for the rainfall you receive. What you sow, when you sow and how

Cost-effectively producing and harvesting close to the water-limited yield potential is the most effective way to improve your profit margin.

9. Skill up and seek advice

Increasing your grain selling knowledge will increase returns. Understanding the principles will allow informed decisions that manage pricing risk. It will help you to work more effectively with grain brokers or advisors.

Summary Productivity affects profit, more than grain price. Reframing how you think and feel about grain marketing will reduce stress and improve decisionmaking.

6. Margin per tonne matters more than the price per tonne

2. Price variation is buffered by crop or enterprise diversity

4. You have less control over commodity price

1. It’s a matter of maths

8. Focus where you have the most influence

Stewing about unexpected price drops won’t improve pricing. Try to recognise which issues are beyond your control and focus less on them.

Dr Kate Burke, author of Crops People Money and You: The Art of Excellent Farming and Better Returns, is an agri strategist, educator and speaker. Her book outlines a road map for sustainable profit taking and legacy making with less stress. Visit au/product/crops-people-money-you/ For details on how to win a copy of Kate’s book, see page 20.

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FARMtalk • 23

The Great Australian Way... Drinking in the Rivers Colin Whelan Drinking In The Rivers: Vol I: The memorable pubs and unforgettable characters of the Murray and Edward Rivers. Since time immemorial rivers have been the arteries of Australia’s red heart and the river defined not just the landscape but also the people. Colin Whelan travelled to many memorable pubs along the Murray and its branch, the Edward. The stories of these pubs are inevitably intertwined with the river and with their yesterdays. $49.99 Camps Australia Wide No 11. Michelle Gilmore Camps 11 is the definitive guide to lowcost camping across Australia, featuring verified free camps, caravan parks, national and state parks, community campsites, show grounds, station stays and much more. The latest edition of Camps Australia Wide features more sites than ever before, giving campers, caravanners, 4WD enthusiasts, road trippers and other travellers more places to pull up and stay for the night.

Healthy Rivers – play your part The second round of the Coalition Government’s Murray– Darling Healthy Rivers Program is now open. Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt said the grants are a great opportunity for communities across the Murray–Darling Basin to improve the health of rivers and wetlands. This round will have a large grants stream for projects valued between more than $100,000 and $2 million, in addition to a small grants stream for projects valued at $5,000 to $100,000. The grants could fund a wide variety of projects from planting native seedlings along riverbanks to reduce erosion and provide habitat for native birds and animals, to controlling invasive species which threaten native species and farmers’ crops. Large grants could be used for projects which have catchment-scale benefits, or higher value localised projects, such as installing fish ladders and culverts to allow native fish to travel throughout the whole river. Applications for both small and large grants are open until 9pm on October 6. To learn more about eligible activities or to apply, visit the Community Grants Hub —


Explore Australia 2022: Australia’s Essential Travel Guide Explore Australia Now in a flexibound format for in-car use, Explore Australia 2022 covers more of the country than any other Australian guidebook. Now in its 38th edition, this seminal guidebook includes details on over 700 regional towns across the country, including information on local and nearby attractions, as well as markets and festivals. Discover the best this country has to offer with features on the best beaches, gourmet food and wine destinations, wildlife encounters, adventure holidays and Indigenous cultural experiences, along with new updates and information on Australian tourism in 2022. $45.00 These great titles and more available instore. We post direct to you, contact us today to discuss getting your copies posted* *Postage and Handling fees apply.

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Photo of the Month It’s officially spring, and that means fields of yellow gold are a common sight throughout the Riverina region. The Bain sisters - Savannah, Indi and Ava - took full advantage of the beautiful canola field on their Mayrung property recently, enjoying a picnic among the flowers in the sunshine.

Submit your photo and caption for the FARMlife Photo of the Month via Facebook (@farmtalkmagazine), Instagram ( or email

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