Talk about unsustainable farming in Red Centre

With its harsh climate and extreme heat, no one thought Central Australia’s sandy soils some 90km south of Alice Springs would be capable of sustaining crops. But Glenn Buddle and his father, Malcolm, who moved from South Australia in 1982, have proved that where there’s a will, there’s a way, reported Queensland Country Life (26 September 2006 p25).

Horse, camel feed: Aided by an extensive irrigation system. the Buddles last year produced 25,000 bales from 32 hectares of their 134ha property, Hugh River Holdings. The small. square bales are sold for horse and camel feed across the state and the round bales are preferred by large stations around Alice Springs.

Work in cool of night: The crop is grown and cut year round, with cropping and baling done at night to overcome the extreme heat of the day, which can reach 45 degrees Celsius. "Basically, as long as we keep the water up and get the fertiliser on, anything will grow," Glenn Buddle said.

Pivot irrgation system: The Buddles work in 8 hectare lots using a pivot irrigation system which pumps water 24 hours during, the summer months and as needed during winter, principally from two bores. The pumps are powered by diesel generators, with 8.5L of fuel needed each hour.

Water, fuel biggest costs: "We’re pumping 40,000 gallons (182,000 litres) an hour, so water and fuel are our biggest costs," Mr Buddle said. "Last year we spent $120,000 on fuel alone."

Alternative fuel costs too much: The Buddles investigated fuel alternatives such as solar systems and wind turbines, but the set up costs currently are prohibitive.

Bale prices increased: To overcome escalating costs, the Buddles have been forced to increase the price they charge a bale. In the last five years the price has doubled from $6 to $12/bale.

Queensland Country Life, 26/9/2006, p. 25

Source: Erisk Net  

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