Pages Navigation Menu

Newsletter: SA Report

December 2019

By Ben Haslett, SA Chair and 2015 Scholar

As with many parts of Australia, South Australia has had very low rainfall in most areas this year, with some pockets of average-to-good rains being the exception. Even the irrigated horticulture sector is praying for rain in the Vic and NSW high country to fill storages. That, and wanting a senate enquiry fast tracked into the manipulation of the water market.

An SA region update in the words of scholars is shown below, received in September:

John Gladigau, 2007 Scholar

Unfortunately, the Northern Mallee isn’t looking great and we are now into our third drought in three years. In 2018, we had 96mm (from an average 175mm) for the growing season, and so far in 2019 we have had 84mm at Alawoona and 70mm at Loxton, with no subsoil coming in. So, it’s a trying time. Despite the extreme low rainfall, crops have progressed and are hanging on remarkably well where there has been good rotation, nutrition and agronomy. But with no subsoil moisture remaining, every drop is literally hand to mouth. Everyone is a bit over it frankly.

Carly Bussenschutt, 2013 Scholar

The Kangaroo Island season has been going down the tube pretty quickly. We have had an incredibly dry winter and spring so far (150mm down for the year so far). Our soils and systems rely on constant rainfall so we are preparing to offload our entire lamb crop in the next couple of weeks, which is two months early. Wool is down by 60% so it’s been a bit of a reality check from the highs of the last few years. It is frustrating as we are finally fully stocked and won’t get to realise the potential but that’s farming. On a positive note the accommodation and tourism industry is going gangbusters.

Emma Leonard, 1993 Scholar

The Yorke Peninsula is looking good, but areas other than the South are living from rainfall to rainfall and have had some big frosts but unclear on any damage yet.

Jack England, 2016 Scholar

Rainfall (in the South East) has ranged around the 60-70% decile which has been ideal for those that have heavy black clay soils usually stunted by waterlogging. Combined with warmer than average winter temperatures, this has set the season up for a bumper.  While yield potential of crops has been set very high, the distinct lack of and low frequency of strong low-pressure systems has many on edge. Bringing clear skies, “Jack Frost” has been brought into the equation but fortunate that the shear bulk of crops provides the get out of jail free card with the current strong hay market outlook. We are all acutely aware of the pressure some are going through in drought ravaged areas of our country and it is always a bitter pill to swallow when others capitalise at your expense. Unfortunately, we all know this is the nature of our profession and I hope the “other side” is coming for those in need soon.

Dennis Holder, 2016 Scholar (Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent Blue Crab Fishing)

Its been very cold and dry. Water temperature dropped quickly in June which slowed the movement of crabs by 15-20 %. They have since acclimatised and catch rate is very good.

The SA branch held our AGM luncheon in April in the Adelaide Hills at “Lot 100”, a new distillery, brewery and restaurant. It worked really well with more than 40 attending, together with a good number of investors including new national investor Westpac Agribusiness. This has been a change for SA, as over the past few years we have held our event as a regional rotation to try and give scholars an opportunity to reconnect and see other farming businesses. Unfortunately, this hadn’t been working well in terms of numbers, even though those who attended really enjoyed it. So, we took a leaf out of WA’s book and held a luncheon near Adelaide and had the best showing in recent memory.

Adelaide is the central location, and scholars and families can find multiple reasons to attend as they can incorporate it into a bigger trip. Conducting it on a Friday also seemed to help avoid clashes with other family commitments and made it easy for corporate investors to attend during work hours.

At the AGM we thanked 2013 Scholar Lachie Seears and 2011 Scholar James Robertson for their service, who had both taken rotations serving the state committee and filling the role of Chair at our branch. New members on our committee are Vice Chair Emma Leonard (1993 Scholar), Derek Tiller (2015 Scholar) and Andrew Baldock (2015 Scholar). Carly Bussenschutt (2013 Scholar) continues as Secretary but will take over as Chair when my term finishes. Dave Reilly (2012 Scholar) is Treasurer but will pass the position to another member shortly. Dennis Holder (2016 Scholar) also continues as a committee member.

State selections were conducted at a different venue this year. We have often conducted interviews at Nufarm, but with the current climate they have been unable to continue their investment in scholars in the short-term. To maintain the link with Nufarm, we included them on our selection committee again this year. Given Westpac Agribusiness are a national investor, and to give them some more exposure to Nuffield scholars, they joined our selection committee and provided their excellent boardroom facilities in the CBD for our use.

SA interviewed four applicants which was disappointing in terms of the number of personal contacts and phone calls made to potential candidates, and those that expressed an interest by downloading the application form. Some candidates didn’t meet eligibility requirements but will in the future and others gave the “too busy” reason. I feel confident, however that some who didn’t apply this year will in the next few years as they know other scholars and have the support of family.

Finally, harvest is underway across much of the state and even finished in some areas of the Mallee. Rainfall is still in short supply, apart from some areas closer to the coast. Preliminary yield reports indicate quite a disparity between areas. The Riverland received a freak hailstorm in November which damaged horticultural crops and sparked debate about the high cost of hail insurance premiums in horticulture. November also saw Dave Reilly announced as the 2019 winner of the Duncan MacGillvray Entrepreneur award at the South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage awards. Congratulations Dave!

Date for the Diary – 2020 AGM

Please note that Nuffield SA will host its State AGM and event on Friday 3 April in the Adelaide region, exact venue to be confirmed. We look forward to seeing all Scholars and Investors at this major event of our year.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This