Focus on profitability
More than 100 people took up an opportunity to learn about lifting farm profitability through productive pastures and management systems at a conference in Ararat.
Agricultural industry members from across Victoria and a group of South Australian visitors attended independent farmer group Perennial Pasture Systems’ 10th annual conference, at Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre.
The PPS group aims to bring productive and sustainable pasture research and extension to the region.
President Tony Roberts said the annual conference was a vital event on the group’s calendar.
“This year’s theme was ‘PPS 10 years on; looking back and moving forward’,” he said.
“We lined up a range of quality speakers for the day as well as a visit to a highly productive PPS member farm.”
Seminar speakers included leading agricultural economist Dr Bill Malcolm from Melbourne University, who looked at the economics of pasture improvement.
“He provided an extensive, insightful and entertaining presentation,” Mr Roberts said.
This was complemented by a report on the PPS research site ‘Greenfields’, near Elmhurst, compiled by consultant Lisa Warn and Mr Roberts, who is hosting the trial.
Dr Belinda Hackney from NSW Department of Agriculture provided a paper explaining possible reasons behind underperforming legumes.
“Unfortunately, Belinda was a late withdrawal as a presenter due to a back injury but the presentation was delivered by PPS member Debbie Shea,” Mr Roberts said.
“Belinda is planning to visit PPS next autumn to provide the current year’s results of her research.”
Cameron Allan from Meat and Livestock Australia gave a brief look into the future of the sheepmeat industry and the issues the industry will need to address.
Leading farmer speakers, Shaun Beasley from East Gippsland and Henry Goode from Mt Benson in South Australia, put in ‘plain words’ how to ‘put it all together on the farm’.
Mr Beasley spoke about his start in agriculture in 1982, leasing land and purchasing sheep for one dollar.
His enterprise has now grown to carrying 20,000 sheep and 1000 cattle at its peak.
Numbers have been reduced this year due to drought conditions in his region.
Mr Goode presented on his family’s enterprise in south-east South Australia.
“It is a leading farm making the most of modern merino genetics, complemented by an extremely high level of best practice adoption of husbandry practices,” Mr Roberts said.
Seminar participants concluded the day session with a visit to the Mcdougall family farm at Maroona, where Sean Mcdougall provided information about managing the mixed farming enterprise.
“The day concluded with an annual dinner at Chalambar Golf Club in Ararat, where noted agricultural consultant Ken Solly from Naracoorte gave a passionate, insightful and inspirational presentation on the people side of working in agriculture,” Mr Roberts said.
“It is great to be able to bring such a high level of presenters to the conference, which provides valuable information and inspiration to improve the productivity on the region’s sheep and cattle enterprises.
“It was a great social day as well, with lots of positive people in attendance.”
FARM VISIT: Maroona. Perennial Pasture Systems conference participants visit the Mcdougall family farm at