Tasmanian Times


The current farming picture is pretty grim …

Drought in Tassie ... late 2018

The current farming picture is pretty grim. More constant droughts exacerbated by global warming coupled with a history of environmental vandalism mean we might just need to reevaluated the whole concept of farming. Indeed maybe we need to slice capitalism out of this sector once and for all.

So, some questioning of the current agricultural system appears imperative. The environmental cost of farming in Australia is incalculable. The loss of trees in the past two hundred years, millions possibly? Water resources have been squandered, rivers dredged, dammed and redirected, generally in the name of agriculture. Water wasteful irrigation channels smear across vast belts of land. All this coupled with the basic fact that as an ancient continent, this country has a slim top soil layer which farmers plunder. Soil is blown by strong winds from Western NSW across Sydney out into the Pacific and potentially NZ! Sydneysiders mutter, “how dare those Kiwis take our top soil!”

We also know that the days of big steaks, pork crackling, and roast lamb are waining, eventually all will be subject to a carbon tax. It’s the farting, supposedly. Not sure what this means for flatulent humans…? Chooks and vegetables remain on the menu. Fruit is still in the good bucket despite sugar content.

Many Australia’s orchards are grown in an environmentally unsustainable manner. Trees are planted closely maximizing land usage and radically pruned to ensure annual cropping. As a consequence orchards are intensively irrigated. Varieties are minimized to those few species that can exist within ranges of maximum storage and cartage. Such a shame, we are loosing choice and taste!

Ok how do we squirm out this situation.?

Perhaps we need to start in cities and towns. What about pressure on local government to play a useful part? Fruitful gardens could receive a rates discount, following ripping out the rhododendrons etc. and planting of fruits trees. Perhaps council election could engage in a little bargaining on discounts “for a lower rate elect me” and so on, possibly brightening up Local Government elections no end! And indeed Council could lead the way by planted fruit trees in streets and in parks.

Sounds quite promising and with a little digging and effort the householder is off to excellent fruit as well as rates cuts. Some info on trees needs to be provided: peach trees are a little slack in longevity, figs are very resourceful and have long lives. Nut trees are excellent and can have centuries of life. Forget almond trees, they are very dependent on bees and provide little in return for our benevolent little buzzing insects.

Now quite a number of fruit trees can be grown in an average suburban back yard. And vegetables a plenty can also added to the garden. For the new gardener the quest for the most amazing tomato is a grand experience as there is such an abundance of varieties which never appear on the supermarket shelves.

Currently groups of gardeners have swap Saturdays for plants, fruit and veggies. Now this brings into play those folk living in high rise as they can actually process food and come back next week for further processed delectables to swaps. And weekly food swaps are very social.

Now of course larger plots of land, let us mention Battery Point and Point Piper, quite good chunks of urban land potentially suitable, well, not for a dairy cows (and bulls can be quite noisy) but certainly for a few goats. Goats on the Points could be a radical catch cry!

Perhaps some rating penalties could be imposed on Pointer folk who do not engage in goat management.

Fine and excellent, the suburbs providing veges and fruit, the inner city processing the produce and the rich Pointers providing milk.

We might have to accept that grain growers carry on, perhaps not burning stubble and causing soil erosion, but frankly we need our daily bread and malt, yes malt.

As finally we all need to do some brewing. Beer is essential and hops grows like a little trogan in much of Tasmania and Eastern Vic. With hops and malt, good beer is a two week turn around. Fruits are very brewable. Test the alcohol ladder with say medlar or rose petal wine. Perhaps test on yourself first. But potentially no more need for trips to the bottle shop.

The inner city folk currently brew at home so at those Saturday swaps … alcohol might add a very pleasant option.

Socialism for agriculture, grow it yourself, swap it and have a lot of fun. And poke a stick at capitalism as you do it!

Josephine Zananiri lives in the Independent electorate of Indi and currently works in the manual labour arena tending native and exotic trees, so has plenty of time to think. Followed everywhere by her two dogs Percy and Fino who generally agree on all subjects, only occasionally deserting the conversation in the chase for samba deer! Slight differences in logic can therefore be attributed to the two woofers leaving their critical post!

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  1. Rob Halton

    November 20, 2018 at 7:30 am

    Simon, it’s a pity the Editor has placed this article on the back burner otherwise I would reply to you in some detail, It seems that the yes you are right re conversion buts not require a subsidy, some wise landowners who have either been bitten by MIS bug are now reverting back to normal farming practices as you state with Dale Elphingstone.

    I think that Josephine would be disgusted to think that this article serves as no prominence on TT media, pity as the rubbish that has been promoted for the transgender lunatic community is playing a major role while sustainable farming practices is thrown aside.

    This article should be fore front as is Trevor Burtons article on MIS.

    Editor, please place this article up front as there is still much to discuss, I dont want to necessarily criticise the TT management but this article is basically about the future of agricultural practices in Australia and should remain on the front line as is the MIS article where it is instantly available for comment.


    Robin, please secure quality assistance with your grammar when composing your Comments.

    The above is published unedited. Unintelligible parts of your offerings risk deletion henceforth.

    — Moderator

  2. Wining Pom

    November 19, 2018 at 9:21 am

    I wish the world was like what you write Josephine, but the world is run by humans and we do things the easiest way.

    When civilisation collapses things will change. Look what happened in Cuba. It’s like what you write, but it took the loss of the Soviet supply of fuel and chemicals to make it happen.

    A few more droughts, a world food shortage, then things will change. But until then, bottles and cans will still be thrown out of windows, people will shop at supermarkets and Maccas, big business will stuff up areas by closing abattoirs and other services .. and people will believe in Trump and Murdoch.

  3. Rob Halton

    November 19, 2018 at 1:05 am

    There are some very good comments from Simon and MjF. We are supposed to be talking about growing more food.

    I would agree with Simon. I have seen it happen before my eyes when I worked at Wynyard and Upper Natone back in the 90s when Rolley and the FEA were buying up farmland, much of it on the rich red dirt, to plant nitens. Previously most of these areas had grown, spuds or were dairy producing properties.

    I am not denying the nitens growers, well not entirely, but from my way of thinking (future planning) a balanced measure of trees versus food.

    Of course Josephine is right. We should be aiming at maximising the use of good soils in areas of reliable rainfall. I would expect she is talking about Tas NW/NE Coast and many parts of Victoria, NSW and Qld .. already known for good soils and reliable rainfall patterns.

    I would go so far as to say that, on our areas of red dirt, we should consider harvesting the dreaded nitens and make a smart decision to look closer at the future food supply issues as a priority.

    Even the government could provide some form of subsidies or tax relief for landholders to convert much of the better sites back into food production because of reliable rainfall and available water resource for irrigation.

    A move away from those dryer and more arid areas of Australia needs to happen. China should never think that Australia can expand with agriculture to suit their needs, and it’s impossible that we would compromise our land mass to a point of over development on marginal seasonal land that should remain in its natural state.

    Does anyone have an update on the Woolnorth dairying property owned by the Chinese and the Edith Creek milk processing factory?

    • Simon Warriner

      November 19, 2018 at 8:25 am

      Interesting comments, Rob. I am wary of governmment subsidising conversion of plantation back into farmland as it has the potential to reward people that I, and many others including some very serious farmers, regard as the beneficiaries of a huge fraud against the taxpayer, and it will further concentrate food production in the hands of large corporate entities. Serfdom sucks. I note Dale Elphinstone ripped out the Nitens on his Hampshire property and converted it back to dairy.

      Be careful with conflating Woolnorth/Moonlake and Edith Creek factory. Edith Creek is owned by a Thai company which owns several farms in Circular Head and are not related in any way to Moon Lake. I’m not sure where the factory is regarding production but I have observed that Moon Lake has been trying to fill a couple of property manager positions for a long time, and that the breathless announcements in the local media have dried up … for whatever that is worth, and which may be very little.

  4. MjF

    November 18, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Deleted. Abusive. Tone matters, Martin.

    — Moderator

  5. Mjf

    November 15, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    I think you need to adjust your seating position Simon W. The Inglis River catchment is nowhere near entirely planted out to trees. Here’s a snapshot to ponder:

    1. The section of Inglis catchment below Pages Rd crossing has almost nil plantations in it.
    2. The section between Pages Rd and Takone Rd is less than 40% planted.
    3. The headwaters of the catchment above Takone Rd are heavily planted, the majority being radiata.

    This pine is grown specifically for lumber, not paper, either domestically or as export sawlog. E nitens is increasingly being shipped as peeler log, not as woodchips for high quality paper, although a percentage always will be. The industry is continuously looking for alternative and value added uses for E nitens, eg the Hermel mill at Hampshire, Forico’s wood pellet trial, Pakistan power poles, etc.

    I say ‘get the trees growing first’ as there’ll always be end uses found as markets evolve. There’s no need to try and be too clever.

    • Simon Warriner

      November 16, 2018 at 3:56 am

      OK, I admit to being slightly rhetorical, but the point remains. Good soils with reliable rainfall are being wasted.

      The majority being pine? Some pine, yes, but hardly the majority. It is where I live.

      And wasn’t the whole idea behind the corruption that was “2020 Vision” to make Australia self sufficient in wood products? Most of those markets are export orientated.

      I would be more precise but I finished work at 10:30 last night, and have to start again in 30 minutes at 5:30 am.

      • Mjf

        November 16, 2018 at 8:49 am

        “Good soils with reliable rainfall are being wasted” ?

        I see. I guess it depends on where you earn your dollar. Not being biased there, are you Simon ?

        I do wonder why you’re posting TT comments @ 3.56 am. Here’s some light reading re 2020 Vision:


        • Russell

          November 17, 2018 at 7:14 am

          Tree plantations are supposed to be permitted ONLY on poorer classed soil lands, and good soil lands more suitable for food production are supposed to be excluded from tree plantations.

          But in reality that has never really been the case in Tasmania, has it, Martin?

          Even then, tree plantations have been a complete failure like that of the once excellent farming property of “Armitstead” in Kimberley. Armitstead used to employ dozens of people year round, but when it was bought by Gunns and was put under trees there was rarely a soul to be seen, and it failed.

          What a disgraceful, wasteful industry, just so that people can wipe their backsides.

          • MjF

            November 17, 2018 at 8:57 am

            Gee Russell, show me the legislation re soil quality and how it applies to State Forest. Are you still banging the Armistead drum ? Let’s see how it goes 2nd time around. Maybe they’ll do something about my tfe beetles this time.

            I love plantations, but I cannot follow the negativity. I’ve just replanted a block I own at Nietta. Beautiful basalt soil, plenty of rain and pretty much flat-to-undulating terrain. I’m going to prune trees, thin twice, and grow out for 30 years. It should be awesome!

          • Russell

            November 18, 2018 at 8:14 am

            Why don’t you tell us how many timber jobs and family mills have disappeared under the plantations forestry banner, Fitch?

            Plantations are a not-for-profit scourge on our countryside and environment.

            You won’t be around in 30 years, and neither will your dream.


            Russell, addressing a fellow Commenter in this place by his surname, as you have done above (and many times before) is taken as an expression of contempt. Abusive Comments contravene TT’s Code of Conduct and so they risk editing or deletion. Martin’s response to your post above has just been deleted on sight for the same reason. Tone matters, Russell.

            — Moderator

        • Simon Warriner

          November 17, 2018 at 10:43 am

          “It was actually 4:36 and I was having a cup of tea and catching up with some reading before heading to work which starts at 5:30 ish. I find it helps me to wake up before dodging the wildlife on the way to work. I was asleep at 10 pm and slept like a log. Nice attempt at a smear tho ;-). The better question is why am I writing this now when I should be outside doing productive stuff.”

          Martin, you can fix the clock on your computer if you hold the cursor over the time at the bottom right of your screen, and right click. You should get a menu which includes ‘adjust time’. There might even be an auto-update option which saves the hassle twice a year.

          Thanks for the link. I might get to it later. And yes, I am biased. As are most people, about something, including you.

          What species are you planting at Nietta?

          • MjF

            November 17, 2018 at 8:34 pm

            Simon … you’re on daylight saving time, but I’m not. That must be the variance.

            45,500 E. nitens gone in at 1300 stems/ha.

            Pine is more valuable, but there’s more waste at harvest.

  6. max

    November 14, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Farming has never been easy.

    Farming throughout history has always been a struggle from drought and flooding rains, pests, and avaricious retailers, but throughout the history of farming there was always the hope of a bountiful next year.

    Climate change is becoming the new norm, and farming as we know it will go from uncertain and difficult to impossible, and the feeding of the general population will become impossible.

    In most highly populated countries of the world, glaciers are the taps that supply water, and they are disappearing, and without glaciers no water, and so no farms .. and mass migration can be the only result.

    Australia may be entering an el nino, and if it does we can expect drought conditions on top of the drought that has been going on for 6 years in some areas.

    With the Armageddon of climate change threatening the very survival of our planet, how can our present government continue to be so crass?

  7. Russell

    November 14, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Current farming practices are unsustainable. Prior to European invasion there were no hard hooved animals on the continent. Since invasion the numbers of livestock have increased beyond our land’s capacity to support them.

    In all the drought footage one farmer’s common theme has been the case, namely”the kangaroos and emus are eating what’s left of our stock’s pasture” and “two or three kangaroos could eat what one of our sheep would have needed to survive.”

    There’s your answer, idiots! Farm native animals. They eat less; they eat native grasses; they require less water; they require no chemicals; they don’t destroy the land; kangaroos don’t gestate in times of drought and in good times they have one at foot, one in the pouch and one embryo ready to be born .. AND they are so much healthier to eat!

    I am becoming more disillusioned with programs like Landline every week when they showcase properties stocking more animals on farms instead of less. This week it was promoting miniature cows, miniature goats and Dorper sheep on drought affected properties.

    How irresponsible and suicidal! They’ve flogged the guts out of their properties so that their standard breeds of sheep have starved to death, so now they bring in larger numbers of miniatures, and Dorpers which can eat whatever is left of the native vegetation .. AND they’re STILL having to feed the bloody things grain! There is nothing left on these properties – but DESERT!

    The properties showcased on Landline were situated in places which used to be lush and green even in drought times (read actual journal accounts by the explorers and surveyors in “The Biggest Estate on Earth) but now there is nothing but dust .. and we’re not even in an El Niño phase.

    The human race is the most brainless, greedy, self-destructive species on the planet.

  8. Ted Mead

    November 14, 2018 at 6:10 am

    The Australian government’s position on mitigating climate change is untenable. Even if there was a dramatic political shift in its approach the damage is already done, and the outcome is inevitable.

    In two decades the livestock industry west of the Great Dividing Range will be almost non-existent, and of course the farmers will continue to support the conservatives.

    The deficiency of water will see broad-scale exotic animal farming a thing of the past, and with that the rural economy will collapse.

    It’s time for the carnivores to ponder on a meal of tofu burgers with salad entrées. It may be destined to be a diet beyond your control .. unless you are wealthy.

    • Simon Warriner

      November 14, 2018 at 4:39 pm

      And here in the NW of Tasmania, where we have the ability to farm livestock with adequate rainfall, what have we done with the land? From where I am sitting right now, almost the entire Inglis River catchment is planted out with trees for making paper .. in a rapidly digitising age.

      Genius level thinking? NOT!

      • Russell

        November 15, 2018 at 6:50 am

        Watch your springs and creeks dry up, Simon.

        • Simon Warriner

          November 18, 2018 at 8:41 pm

          It’s interesting you mention that, Russell.

          The farm I work on at Oldina has the Blackfish creek running through it, and the Nitens Plantation at the head waters of the Blackfish catchment was logged last year. The blackfish ran all year, even during the driest months. It had not done that since the plantation had reached canopy closure.

          • Russell

            November 20, 2018 at 8:29 am

            It has happened wherever the plantations have gone in.

            Nitens (like the globulus globulus from the Bass Strait islands) also come from very dry origins and are very efficient at getting to water, so they are chosen because ‘foresters’ believe they will grow much faster than endemic trees in our wetter landscape.

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