Southern Highlands newcomers have big plans for their property

Southern Highlands newcomers have big plans for their property

May 8, 2020

Southern Highlands newcomers James and Kylie Fitzpatrick have big plans for their new property, ‘Glenora’, at Avoca.

The husband and wife team bought the old dairy farm with the idea of developing it into a beef cattle operation.

The pair have been busy bringing the 112ha property up to scratch, organising fencing, drainage, cultivation and cropping.

“We’ve spent a lot of money bringing it into line, including internal fencing, an internal drainage system, and more recently, we deep ripped all the cultivation country,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“The money spent on the internal drainage was well and truly justified over the past couple of months, with big areas turned to a soak during the 300 – 400mm we received.”

Heading into spring 2019, the farmers planned to grow corn for silage, but with deteriorating seasonal conditions and no sub soil moisture, they consulted Bowral Co-op agronomist Alex Good.

They decided to plant forage sorghum for hay and silage as a lower risk alternative, sowing their entire 80ha farming area to the crop.

They planted 48ha of Sprint due to its very fine stems and leaves which are perfect for hay, along with 32ha of BMR Rocket for round bale silage and/or hay.

“Ideally I would love to put any silage I make into a pit rather than bale it, but last season was different and part of my planning was to sell the excess hay/silage I put into round bales,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

The 2019/20 summer season ended up being a real challenge for them, with very limited soil moisture at planting resulting in a very sparse germination originally. Luckily, everything came up later when rain fell in January. However, with no recent cultivation history, there were soft and hard spots throughout the paddocks resulting in loss of plant stands. They managed to cut it all around February 14.

“It was a little taller than I wanted but this was due to the rain and double germination before the big rain but it still made very nice silage.

“After we swathed the crop, we chopped the material before going into the baler.”

They ended up with 750 round bales off the 80ha. After the first cut, everything turned pear shaped.  300-400mm of rain fell over a period of four to six weeks, resulting in big soak areas with springs opening up and it was just too wet to get a complete second cut.

“We managed to get 200 bales off the drier areas on our second cut and then green mulched it all in.

“A disappointing end, but at least we were able to salvage something and recover our costs.”

The country has since been deep ripped and has been planted to oats/vetch with the idea of putting it into pit silage in the spring.

“Both Sprint and BMR Rocket did the job for us under trying conditions.

“By chopping the material before going into the throat of the baler made it all a nice fine material.

“Now that we have got the property into some sort of shape, we’ll start to introduce cattle, which means our cropping area will fall next season, but we still hope to grow either corn or forage sorghum for silage or even both, but in pits not bales.

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