Or­ganic a farm work in progress

Great Southern Herald - - News - Bob Gar­nant

Or­ganic farm­ing has its chal­lenges, but chem­i­cal-free pun­dits are find­ing it eas­ier go­ing with the con­tin­u­a­tion of per­ti­nent in­for­ma­tion now on­stream.

It is about be­ing self-ed­u­cated, says Kojonup or­ganic farmer Grantly Mari­noni, who farms with his wife Peta and par­ents Phil and Vi, who run a 923 hectare 70/30 sheep/crop­ping mixed farm­ing en­ter­prise.

“By ne­ces­sity, we are our own con­sul­tants, which is mea­sured by the pro­gres­sive im­prove­ments of our farms soil nu­tri­ents,” he said.

“Where or­ganic farm­ing be­comes stuck is when there is min­i­mum rain­fall dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son but, oth­er­wise, we highly value our chem­i­cal-free soils.”

The Mari­no­nis use nat­u­ral rock phos­phate to fer­tilise their live­stock graz­ing pas­tures and an­nual pro­duc­tion of Car­rolup oats, which are mar­keted through UniGrains for pre­mium val­ues.

“Although we av­er­age only 1.5 tonnes/ha, the pre­mi­ums and low chem­i­cal in­put costs keep us ahead of the game,” Mr Mari­noni said.

Value adding off the oaten stub­bles, the Mari­no­nis run a self-re­plac­ing Merino flock con­sist­ing of 1750 breed­ing ewes go­ing back to Lyn­d­hurst blood­lines, a nine-year Dohne in­jec­tion into maid­ens and most re­cently An­genup and Merino Tech ge­netic in­fu­sions.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the wool quality from An­genup and Merino Tech is of­fer­ing Aus­tralian Sheep Breed­ing Val­ues in which we can se­lect for worm-re­sis­tant val­ues or other im­por­tant sur­vival traits,” Mr Mari­noni said.

“Our Au­gust-shorn Chargerup 18.2 av­er­age mi­cron Merino wool clip, which was cer­ti­fied or­ganic for 22 years, had po­ten­tial to cre­ate a new mar­ket, but due to con­tin­ual lack of a de­mand, it wasn’t cost-ef­fec­tive to con­tinue.”

Mr Mari­noni broke or­ganic pro­to­col favour­ing im­proved an­i­mal health stan­dards through a par­a­site drench­ing pro­gram which was ben­e­fi­cial to his sheep as there was no pre­ven­ta­tive al­ter­na­tives be­sides improving the flock’s ge­netic worm re­sis­tance.

“We did how­ever keep a mob of 150 or­ganic cer­ti­fied ewes which are mated to Poll Dorset rams with prog­eny mar­keted to Or­ganic & Bio­dy­namic Meats Co-op­er­a­tive WA,” he said.

Pic­tures: Bob Gar­nant

Or­ganic farm­ers Grantly and Peta Mari­noni pro­duce their Chargerup wool­clip from chem­i­cal-free pas­tures.

Chargerup Merino ewes and lamb.

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