Next Gens Farm Visit – Mill Farm, Hagley

Owners and operators:  Greg & Sarah Gibson

Presenters at the visit:  Greg Gibson

Property details:
Total area 700 ha over two farms (Hagley & Bishopsbourne) approximately 10 km apart.
Average annual rainfall, 700mm

  • Soils, Cressy loam, Duplex (sandy loam over subsoil clay), some black cracking clay to the surface
    Water resources for irrigation:  total 1,260 ML
    Farm dam storage 600ML, allocations from Meander Dam scheme 350 ML, Cressy Scheme
  • 160ML, Tas Irrigation Bishopsbourne scheme 150ML
  • Linears (4), centre pivots (5), hard Hose irrigators (3)

Labour; Owner plus 2.5 Full Time Equivalents on the farm, 3 FTE on contacting work.

Enterprises:
Irrigated crops, wheat, canola, poppies, peas, green beans, onions (land leased to a grower), potatoes, grass seed, white clover seed, carrot seed.  Most cash crops grown for contracted supply.

Fattening lambs, 8-10,000 per year (some forward contracted), on irrigated & dryland pastures and crop residues and irrigated fodders (including white clover pastures after seed harvest)

Contracting with machinery; drainage works and cultivation

SWOT assessment:
Strengths

  • Diversified enterprises ; good for risk management, but makes management more complex.
  • Good staff
  • Soils, rainfall & climate favourable
  • Water for irrigation reliable and good quality
  • Close to markets and facilities (including expertise (agronomists etc).
  • Good management team – agronomist, bank manager, accountant etc

Weaknesses

  • Owner/manager does not spend enough time in the office (working on the business)
  • Owner/manager – ambition exceeds ability
  • Owner/managed – finds time management difficult
  • Diversity of crops
  • Water-logging of soils

Opportunities

  • Consolidate crops, reduce diversity
  • Marketing – but…
  • New crops
  • Better management of soil health; explore use of bio-fumigants
  • Further automate irrigation; use Variable Rate Irrigation
  • Improve timeliness in cropping operations

Threats

All lambs shipped to Victoria – dependent on shipping

Costs of Production – continual pressure to maintain margins

Labour  – difficult to find and retain people, particularly due to the complexity of the business.  Casuals hard to find.

 

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