Under the pump, Acocks found a winning solution
Thanks for your help
I WRITE to express my appreciation to the Rochester and district communities for their support of the RSL during our recent Poppy Appeal.
Wherever we were selling these precious tokens we received great support from very generous people. Also thanks to those who sold poppies on our behalf; REDHS, Caltex service station, Murray Goulburn store and Rochester Hotel.
Sales from these tokens and associated memorabilia enables the RSL to continue its work caring for ex-serviceman, their families and their dependants.
As the rural crisis worsens, we expect to add more recipients to these welfare activities and the support of a generous and caring community is vital to allow these functions to continue.
We in Rochester RSL are proud of the support given to us by our local principal communities of Rochester, Nanneella and Lockington; we are the envy of other sub-branches.
John Glover RFD, president Rochester RSL TOM Acocks’ reasoning for investing time, effort and money into a new irrigation connection is simple.
“We wanted to grow more feed for the cows. This set up guarantees feed,” Mr Acocks said.
In 2011 the Campaspe Irrigation District was decommissioned leaving about 110ha of the Rochester dairy farm without access to water for irrigation.
It was a decision that affected the dairy farming business’ ability to grow enough feed for their cows, so the family got to work finding a solution.
But because of a solution Mr Acocks helped plan and design, a new connection to the river was established.
For that he was recognised as one of the country’s most innovative farmers at the 2016 Rural Water Awards.
He was named regional winner of the surface water category.
After much planning and designing in 2011, farmers, including Mr Acocks, established a new connection to the Campaspe River, which now allows them to divert water for irrigation.
Water is now pumped from the river, through a pressurised pipe system to two centre pivot irrigators.
The project allows them to double crop the section of land securing feed for the herd.
“The centre pivots allow us to produce two fodder crops a year,” he said.
“One being summer maize for silage and the other is a winter legume for protein forage.
“Combined, this allows us to produce 30 tonnes of dry matter per hectare per year.
“By using a spray system, instead of flood irrigation, we’re also saving between four and five megalitres of water/ha/year.”
Tom and his wife Emma, along with his parents Mick and Heather, milk an 850-strong Friesian herd in a 50-stand rotary dairy.
Growing produce for the herd is particularly important for the family who feed fodder crops on an undercover feedpad rather than relying on pasture.
“This system that allows us to grow more feed, using less water,” Mr Acocks said.
“But the system is more complex that just saving water.
“We’re invested in water infrastructure, but we’ve also spent on machinery and facilities to actually feed the cows.”
There are further benefits created by a system that can be remotely operated.
“Very little labour is required to irrigate a large parcel of land,” he said.
“We’ve even started irrigating while on holidays.
“This system gives us the ability to get water to the crop when and where it’s needed.
“Maize is irrigated on a seven day rotation and we’re using 0.8ML/ha through the spray system, compared to about 1.1 to 1.5ML/ha for flood irrigation.”
The family has a further 1400ha of land with access to water for irrigation through the gravity irrigation network.
The awards are open to all Victorian rural water license holders and aim to recognise and reward people who are doing great things with water.
GMW General Manager of Customer Operations Scott Barber congratulated the award winners saying they were a fantastic display of innovative and efficient water use.
“While we already know our customers are some of the best in the country, these awards prove it,” Mr Barber said.
As a regional winner they will receive a cash prize of $500 and are now in the running to win the $2000 state award.
Tom Acocks at his dairy farm.