The carbon tax, farming and the Lachlan Shire

By Dominic Geiger and Olivia McInnes

With the Carbon Tax war in our nation’s capital having quickly crumbled into a case of political one liners and insults, the humble observer could be forgiven for wondering what it’s all about.
Add to that the question of how the tax will affect the average inhabitant of the Lachlan Shire and one begins to feel as though they’ve opened a Pandora’s Box of confusion and political spin.
So the team here at The Argus thought it was high time we localised the matter, and looked at it from a Condo-centric point of view.
But first, the facts:
The Gillard Government wants to introduce a tax on Australian businesses that produce a large amount of carbon dioxide through the burning of fossil fuels.
The aim is to implement this on July 1 2012.
This is in response to the global scientific consensus that human use of fossil fuels and the resulting release of carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere is the major contributor to global warming.
There is no set price for carbon yet, but figures between $23/tonne and $26/tonne have been suggested.
The Federal Opposition do not support the tax.
They say it will place an unnecessary burden on Australia’s carbon emission-intensive industries such as the coal industry, and as a result many international businesses will move their Australian operations offshore.
They also say it will result in an increase in the cost of living for the average Australian.
So to find out your thoughts on the matter, The Argus took to the streets to interview people from the region.
Rob Hourigan, Part Owner of Frank Cooney and Sons: “The tax will make it very hard for the agricultural industry, particularly farmers when you take into account the amount of money they already need to spend on fuel and transport. It’s going to be very tough for the family farmer whereas I think the corporations will be able to handle it better.”
Joseph Ford, former Condobolin resident, now lives in Sydney: “It’ll have a major impact on the primary producers because the increase in price on basic staples will be passed back down to them.”
Mitch Crump, from Orange: “I struggle to fathom how a tax is going to stop something that hasn’t strictly been proven to be true.”
With a state election looming, it also seemed appropriate to chase up the local political candidates to see what they had to say on the issue. Their answers are listed below, in order of how quickly they responded to our requests.
Adrian Piccoli, Current Nationals Member for Murrumbidgee: “According to the NSW Government’s own pricing regulator, families will be forced to pay more than $500 in additional electricity bills under Labor’s Carbon Tax. NSW families are already doing it tough- but instead of easing the burden, Labor wants to impose yet another tax that will hit household budgets hard, and increase the cost of living.”
George Benedyka, Greens Candidate for Murrumbidgee: “The Greens carbon tax plan will tax polluters, not households. Revenue generated will compensate households, support industry transition and build renewable energy and public transport as well as having the positive outcome of job creation. Economists agree that a carbon tax is the most efficient way to reduce emissions and provide business certainty.”
William Wood, Labor Candidate for Murrumbidgee: “(The carbon tax) is a levy that does not affect the smaller polluters. The tax will be used to subsidise electricity and will not be placed on the agricultural industry. The only (aspect of the carbon tax) that will affect Lachlan Shire residents is The Coalition’s scare campaign.”
Still confused? You’re not alone. After investigating the issue it seemed the best the politicians could provide was a general description of the tax, rather than revealing any specifics. One thing is for sure however; this issue will continue to galvanise the Australian political spectrum until the tax is either implemented or rejected. It remains to be seen how the Lachlan Shire community will be affected, though if public opinion is anything to go by, grave concerns are certainly held for the region.

“Simple by design”

Compiled by Olivia McInnes

Eleven years ago, local farmer Chris Jones invented a twin disc drill seeder. In April 2005, Chris sold the manufacturing rights to the US Company Amity Technology based in Fargo, North Dakota.
Now the Amity drill is being sold and used all around the world including Australia, North America and Europe.
The Manager of Planting and Seeding at Amity Technology, Jack Oberlander, was visiting Australia in 2009. He said, “It’s the best seeder ever made and it was invented right here in Condobolin”.
Jack, whose company released a 60 foot version of the drill said the drill attracts a lot of attention as it will sow under any condition.
“It’s very accurate on depth control and is low maintenance compared to other equipment and simple to operate,” Jack said.
No-till, minimum till or conventional till; The Amity Single Disc Drill works equally well in all three conditions. Down pressure adjustment on the openers from the tractor cab eliminates the need for opener adjustments.
The primary disadvantages of no-till with other single disc designs – hair pinning and sidewall compaction, simply do not occur with the Amity Single Disc Drill.
The Single Disc Drill does not have a gauge wheel running next to the disc. This allows for the soil to lift and flow back against the packer to be re-levelled over the seed furrow.
The Amity patented “opposing single discs” lift and displace the soil between the two narrow 6-inch rows.
The loosened soil coming off of the discs, flows back against the trailing packer which re-levels and firms the soil over the seed rows. This soil displacement eliminates sidewall compaction and hair pinning.
This drill also has the capacity to handle high volumes of stubble, leaving a level seed bed with excellent seed soil contact.

Forage shrubs; a valuable part of the feed-base puzzle

Ian Menz – District Agronomist, Industry and Investment NSW, Condobolin.

On March 23, a information field day will be held at the Condobolin Research and Advisory Station. This field day will be providing information on the advantages of forage shrubs within a livestock farming enterprise.
Following is a brief description of the projects that have been running at the station for a number of years and of some of the topics to be covered on the day.
Livestock, with correct management, can perform well with diverse plant mixtures, selecting a wide range of plants in their diet. A missing component in many grazing systems has been perennial shrubs, but they offer benefits that complement other forage sources on a farm including annual pastures and other perennials.  The ‘Enrich’ project, supported by the Future Farm industries CRC and Meat & Livestock Australia will be holding forums designed to help farmer groups, NRM or catchment groups, farmers and advisers to see the benefits of incorporating forage shrubs into mixed farming systems.
Researchers from across Australia have been assessing the traits and grazing value of a large number of shrub species, especially Australian species, both in the field and in the laboratory. During the forums we will present the proposition that, for a ‘typical’ farm in the low-medium rainfall crop-livestock zones of southern Australia, the inclusion of perennial forage shrubs at about 10-20% of farm area can increase whole-farm profit by 15-20%.
Forage shrubs reduce supplementary feeding over the summer/autumn feed gap and, importantly, allow deferred grazing of other parts of the farm at the break-of-season, thus allowing better management and more pasture to be grown elsewhere.
Perennial Australian shrubs, grown in a mixture, can provide out-of-season feed, contribute to protein and mineral nutrition, improve the efficiency of digestion by livestock and even help control gut parasites. There is a suite of additional benefits to improve natural resource management, such as controlling dryland salinity and/or wind erosion, providing shade and shelter for livestock and pastures, and improving biodiversity.
Some of the topics to be covered at the forums include:
Opportunities to improve your feedbase and increase profits by managing livestock with perennial shrubs (Dr Dean Revell, CSIRO).
Thoughts and experiences of changing farm practices (Cameron Tubby, producer from Morawa, WA).
The ‘other’ benefits of shrubs to livestock: Shrubs provide more than just energy (Assoc. Prof. Phil Vercoe, UWA).
Shrubs work well with pastures (Dr Jason Emms, SARDI).
Practical issues to consider when using shrubs (Bruce Maynard, producer from Narromine, NSW).
What shrubs, where? (Dr Jason Emms, SARDI).
Integrated into the forum program will be a visit to one of the Enrich programs 16 regional sites, so attendee’s can see some shrubs first hand and start to envisage how they can be used. Other region-specific research efforts and grower group activities will also be presented. Attendance is free and lunch and morning and afternoon tea will be provided. Attendees are encouraged to stay afterwards for a BBQ and drinks.
Forum date and time: 9:00am – 4:00pm.
Condobolin, NSW – Agricultural Research and Advisory Station – 23 March, 2011
For more information, contact Nathan Phillips.  nathan.phillips@csiro.au, 08 9333 6700 or
Richard Maccallum 02 6895 1002.

Issues facing farmers this season

By Olivia McInnes
It would seem to some that harvest has only just come to fruition, and what a chaotic harvest it was.
Now, all of a sudden sowing time is approaching again. With that in mind, it is time to look at and appreciate the issues farmers are up against for this season.
District agronomist Ian Menz says that one of the main issues this year in regards to sowing is stubble load and the handling of trash flow.
For those who have not grazed or incorporated their stubble, there will be the issue of getting their machinery through it. Ian suggests that burning may be an option in this case.
Another obstacle that farmers need to be aware of is variety issues. With the increased rainfall this past season, there is also the inevitable increase in disease prevalence; in particular yellow spot.
Farmers need to be on the lookout for both stubble and soil borne diseases, and aim to select varieties which will give them the most insurance against these.
Owing again to our exceptional increase in rainfall, there has also been a significant decrease in seed quality. This can result in poor germination which in turn reduces vigour and therefore performance of a crop.
In addition to this, farmers need to be aware of the seed dressing used as some of these can also reduce vigour due to poor quality.
During the drought years many farmers reduced the amount of fertiliser applied at sowing. Now they face the problem of how much was removed with the good season last year. There may have been a build up of nutrients with less being removed in the lower yields during the drought. This build up would most likely have been removed last season.
Therefore ideally farmers should perform a soil test to accurately determine how much and what type of fertiliser to apply.
Finally, in conjunction with variety choice, farmers need to be aware of sowing within the sowing window to ensure optimum crop performance.

Rotary hosts prostate cancer information evening

Balgowlah Rotary Represenative and prostate cancer survivor, John Terry with Ray Peasley  of Condobolin Rotary at last Saturday’s seminar. DGBy Dominic Geiger

The Condobolin and Balgowlah branches of Rotary International hosted an information seminar aimed at raising awareness of prostate cancer last Saturday night.
The meeting, which was held at the Condobolin RSL, covered topics such as prevention, treatment methods, recovery, and identifying whether or not someone is more prone to the disease than others.
Balgowlah Represenative and prostate cancer survivor, John Terry, said it was incredibly important for men who have a genetic history of prostate cancer to have regular check ups.
“There is also increasing evidence, as was the case with my illness, that if a man’s mother had breast cancer he may also have an increased chance of developing prostate cancer,” he said.
“In addition to that, research has shown that men who follow a Mediterranean diet which eliminates cow dairy products, includes a large amount of fish and other white meat and includes olive oil face a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
“Regular exercise and anti-oxidants such as dark chocolate and red wine have also been shown to help reduce the risk.”
John said there were many different ways of treating prostate cancer, as all cases were different.
“My illness was quite aggressive and needed the kitchen sink thrown at it,” he said.
“In contrast to that, I have a friend who has been recently diagnosed and the doctors are choosing to wait and see how the cancer develops.”
Ray Peasley, Treasurer of the Condobolin Rotary Club, said he thought the issue of prostate cancer was often ignored due to the unwillingness of many men to talk about it.
“I think many of them are embarrassed,” he said.
“There is less publicity about it compared to, say, breast cancer because men are very reluctant to discuss it.”

Free internet education for Condobolin Seniors

Getting up to date:  Joy Marsh and Maree Job.ADVERTORIAL

By Olivia McInnes

The Condobolin Library has recently installed new computers for Condobolin seniors as part of Senior Citizens week. The program is part of a Government initiative which provides free access to computers, broadband services and training to older Australians through computer kiosks at participating organisations.
The addition of these computers to the library gives seniors the opportunity to discover how the web can play a valuable role in helping them stay in touch with friends and family, along with offering access to a wealth of knowledge.
There are two volunteers at the library whom offer free training to seniors. They are more than happy to teach seniors how to surf the internet, and also to set up an email account.
With next week being Senior Citizens week the computers will be free for seniors to drop in and take advantage of this opportunity, and the library intends to make this service an ongoing one. Library opening hours are; Mondays and Tuesdays from 1pm – 5:30pm, Wednesday to Friday 10-12pm and 1-5:30pm, and Saturday mornings from 9-12pm. All seniors are most welcome!

Senior Citizens Week

On Thursday 24th of March 2011, there will be two events to participate in at Condobolin. At 9:30 am at St Josephs Church, there will be a Children’s mass, followed by morning tea and a book fair at St Josephs school. Everybody is welcome; you do not have to be a Catholic to attend. You will be made welcome.
Then at 11am at the RSL Club there is to be a free concert, arranged by Norma Fleming and performed by Stephen Cheney, a world class “singer of songs”. Stephen has performed throughout Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.A.
He has released 18 CD’s and a DVD. Stephen is a Parkes boy. He volunteered to put this concert on for the Senior Citizens. We are indebted to the RSL Club for letting us have their comfortable venue free of charge.
A bus is coming from Lake Cargelligo. People are coming from Trundle and Tullibigeal. Remember the concert is free. You arrange and pay for your own lunch.
See you all at 9:30 at Church and then 11 am at the RSL for the concert.
Contributed by Joan Watson, president of Condobolin Senior Citizens Club.

St Joseph’s welcomes new building

Officials at the opening of the St Joseph's multi-purpose centre: Mark Glendenning, Tim McCabe, Malcolm Goodwin, Principal Paula Leadbitter, Bishop Kevin Manning, Father Donald Gunn and Vince Connor. D.G.

By Dominic Geiger

The St Joseph’s community in Condobolin celebrated the addition of a new multi-purpose building to the school last Monday.
Bishop Kevin Manning of the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese blessed the building while Father Don Gunn of St Joseph’s Parish officially opened the building with the cutting of a blue ribbon which was draped across the entrance.
School Principal, Paula Leadbitter, said the school community was excited to be able to finally use the building after many months of hard work and construction.
“Today is a day of great pride and excitement as we officially open our new multi-purpose centre,” she said in an address to the audience.
“We (now) have a well planned building that has immediately met the needs of our school community and the education of our students.”
Paula said the building wouldn’t have been possible without the help of a number of different people during the preparation and construction process.
“From the moment our building project commenced a collaborative approach to planning was evident,” she said.
“I truly believe the building that we celebrate today is credit to the shared planning and development of all those involved.”
Paula said the $850,000 for the building, including the technology and furniture now inside it, came from the Federal Government’s Building the Education Revolution (BER) program.
“We as a school community recognise and express our heartfelt thanks to the Australian Government for the delivery of this project and allowing us the opportunity to enhance learning for our 21st century learners,” she said.

Condobolin leads the way in compost management

By Dominic Geiger

Representatives of the City to Soil Groundswell waste separation project were in Condobolin earlier this month to congratulate the community on its recent green waste and compost recycling efforts.
Begun three years ago as a joint project in four NSW shires, Groundswell has gained momentum and is now run as an initiative of the Wiradjuri  Condobolin Corporation (WCC) in conjunction with the Lachlan Shire Council.
Groundswell Project Manager Simone Dilkara said the effort Condobolin residents had shown separating green waste from other rubbish had proved them to be “the shining light of the project.”
“The people of Condobolin have done such a great job,” she said.
“They’ve really shown the rest of the country that people are prepared to separate their waste into organic matter and rubbish.”
Barbara Pamphilon, a researcher from the University of Canberra and partner with the project said Groundswell workers had documented the work done in Condobolin in the form of a DVD available on the group’s website.
“We also produced hard copies but they’ve been snapped up by other shires around the country,” she said.
“Basically what we’re doing with our research is to look at the lessons learnt in Condobolin so other councils in Australia can learn from them.
“Landfill is a huge environmental issue in Australia and we hope to eventually reduce landfill by 50% with this program.”
Lisa Hibbert, WCC Finance Manager, said the project was doing a fantastic job offering employment to local Aboriginal people as well as creating opportunities for Condobolin business owners.
“Groundswell as a project with City to Soil has come to an end, but WCC will continue to operate the project,” she said.
“We’re the people doing the day stuff with the compost; not only are we employing people but we’re also training people and providing certificates two and three in waste management.
“People are now disposing of green waste in a useful way; we’ve had an incredible trial period and the people of Condobolin have done themselves proud so we’ll be continuing the project.”

Clean Up Australia Day comes to Condo

Condobolin High School students help with Clean Up Australia Day: Tamara Whitla, Mervyn Wighton, Trent Wighton, David Parkhurst, Greg Kuhn, Cody Merritt, Gideon Van Zwl and Lachlan Porter. DGBy Dominic Geiger

Condobolin High School students were making a difference to the streets around Condobolin last Friday as a part of national Clean Up Australia Day.
Teacher and Student Representative Council (SRC) Organiser Anna Davis said the students were getting involved in the day because they had a responsibility as members of the community to help keep the town clean and free of rubbish.
“We’ve had two teachers organising today and the SRC and other volunteers helping to co-ordinate and participate in the project,” she said.
“A large group of students have gone up and down the town, along the creek bed and through the parks picking up rubbish.”
David Parkhurst, one of the students taking part in the clean up, said he was sure they’d made a big impact on the rubbish in the area.
“I really think we’ve achieved something today,” he said.

Condo High student chosen for NSW Youth Parliament

By Dominic Geiger

A Condobolin High School Student has been selected for the YMCA NSW Youth Parliament for 2011.
Sixteen year old Ciaran Keating is one of 110 individuals in NSW who will take part in the program which aims to give young people aged between 15 and 18 the chance to express their opinions on issues affecting themselves and their communities.Ciaran is a member of the Committee investigating Ethnic Affairs and Citizenship and will join his fellow youth parliamentarians to present and debate Bills in Parliament house for a week in July. If successful, the Bills will then be presented to representatives from both the Government and Opposition.

Team Bullet set to shoot down Sydney competition

Condobolin High School’s Team Bullet: Nathaniel Smith, Lachlan Porter, Alexander Howarth, Greg Kuhn and Mitchell Coote with Ian Bell (centre). D. G.

By Dominic Geiger

Condobolin High School’s Team Bullet is gearing up to compete in the nation wide ‘F1 In Schools’ competition to be held in Sydney from the 15th to the 17th of this month.
The team were at Ian Bell’s Smash Repair getting their cars painted last Wednesday.
Teams from schools around the country who have performed well in regional and then state competitions are invited to attend the event.
All competitors must follow strict guidelines relating to weight, size and materials used when designing small model cars to race in the competition.
Marketing Consultant for Team Bullet Lachlan Porter said their cars had been designed to be sleek, aerodynamic and were modelled on airplane designs.
“We also have ruby caged bearings and aluminium wheels,” he said.
“We should do fine in the competition, thanks to all the help we’ve had from our sponsors and the community.”
Mentor and Teacher at Condobolin High School Dinesh Dodhy said the entire community had done really well to get behind the team.
“A lot of people from around town have donated their services,” he said.
“The great thing about F1 In Schools is that teams from little towns like Condobolin can actually compete against big schools in Sydney,” he said.
“They’re up against private schools with a lot of money and (Team Bullet) stand a real chance.”

Commonwealth glitch affects Condobolin ATMs

By Dominic Geiger

Reports have surfaced suggesting several Condobolin residents with Commonwealth Bank accounts were able to access more money than they actually owned from ATMs around town.
The timing of the reports coincides with a glitch the Commonwealth bank encountered with its online system across NSW.
The Condobolin Argus can confirm the Condobolin Shell Service Station received an influx of people wishing to use its ATM last Tuesday, March 1st, with many people using the ATM more than once.
The Commonwealth Bank has neither confirmed nor denied the fact people were able to access more money than actually existed in their accounts.
Rather, a spokesperson has said the bank will be working closely with people who encountered problems using their accounts.
“During the course of the day some customers have reported withdrawing up to their daily card limits via ATMs,” the spokesperson said.
“Where accounts have been overdrawn, the bank will seek to recover those funds.”
The spokesperson was also unable to confirm whether the bank would be pursuing legal action against those who received more money than they owned.
“We’re not going to speculate on case by case scenarios,” the spokesperson said.
However a NSW police statement released on the same day the bank experienced problems said several men from Merrylands had been charged with “dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception” after using a faulty ATM.
“Police are reminding the public that fraudulently obtaining money through an ATM is an offence that can lead to serious criminal charges,” the release stated.
The problem with Commonwealth’s banking system was resolved several hours following its discovery.

New menswear store on the way for Condobolin

By Dominic Geiger

Practice Manager at the Melrose Street Medical Centre Lindy Hall will soon be giving up her post to pursue a business opportunity in the centre of Condobolin.
Lindy said for some time now there has been a need for a menswear store in the town so people would be able to buy locally.
“I’ve been talking to people around town and they say the need is there for the store and I’m going to do all I can to support the local community,” she said.
“I think the last menswear store shut down around six months ago, so there’s definitely room in the marketplace.”
Lindy said the range of clothes available would include everything from surf wear to work wear.
“We also won’t be limiting ourselves to menswear, as we’ll have some ‘teenware’ ranges as well.”
“Obviously, I’m quite sad to be leaving the Melrose Street practise, I’ve been there 10 months and it’s a great place.
“The main reasons I’m doing this is because I think there’s a need in the community for this, as well as I’ve always had a dream to own my own business.
“We’ve got an idea for where the store will be; it’ll definitely be in Bathurst Street but the exact site of the store isn’t confirmed yet.”

A long way from home

Compiled by Olivia McInnes

The Condobolin Argus recently welcomed a new journalist to its ranks. You may have seen him around town, notebook in hand and nose to the ground for the latest happenings.
Here is an official introduction and an ‘up close and personal’ peak into the life of Dominic Geiger.

Name:  Dominic Geiger
Age:  21
Hometown:  Brisvegas (Brisbane, QLD).
Qualifications:  Mass Communications degree from Queensland University of Technology majoring in Public Relations and Journalism with a minor in French.
Professional experience; Community radio current affairs program host 1 year (2 different stations), Scene music magazine journalist/writer 1 year, copywriter/marketing assistant at Link International (motorcycle parts wholesaler) 6 months.
Other interesting life experiences:  Dominic spent two months in Morocco teaching English to school children in the poorer areas of the capital city, Rabat.
What are your interests/hobbies:  “Listening to good music, travelling, fishing and reading good books (preferably all at the same time if possible).”
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why? “I don’t know, West Africa is pretty cool but I don’t like couscous that much. Probably the North Coast NSW, near Yamba”.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? “When I was in year one I wanted to be a marine biologist. I still kind of do, but I’m going see how this journo thing works out. Maybe one day I can combine both interests.”
Who is your idol/who do you look up to? “Warren Zevon’s my hero”.  (American rock singer-songwriter and musician).
What events led you to Condo? “Had a big night at the casino in Brisbane. Woke up here, decided I needed a job and the Argus were the only people crazy/nice enough to hire me. Nah, I finished uni, wanted a job in journalism and The Argus was hiring. Condo seemed like the sort of place I could get some really hands on experience and take a break from city life for a while”.
What were your first impressions of Condo? “HOLY CRAP EMUS!”
What are your impressions now? “Condobolin’s actually a lot bigger than it seems once you realise there are real people living and working in all those little buildings. It really just feels like a suburb in Brisbane that isn’t anywhere near anything else. Like, rather than having a neighbouring suburb with people and buildings, there are neighbouring sheep and cows”.
What would you like to bring to the Condobolin Community through the Argus? “Balanced, unbiased reporting on topical issues affecting people in town. I also want to encourage people to let me know if they’ve noticed any major/controversial/humorous issues around town they want to see covered in the paper. Beyond that, I hope some of the things I contribute to the paper are entertaining and, where possible, give people a bit of a chuckle’.

(Editor’s note:
Dominic is too unassuming and polite to tell you he beat over 70 applicants into the position at The Argus – but we will.
The Argus conducts a very stringent selection and induction process including sponsoring applicants to attend a practical session over a two day period of tough reporting assignments. You may have seen applicants around town during December and January.
Dominic is a delightful young man who has a tremendous attitude towards himself and those around him and a keen sense of providing quality service to community.
There are stringent criteria attached to Argus reporting. We welcome Dominic to our small team of Argonauts (as we know you will welcome him to our community) confident his contribution will positively impact our ongoing endeavour in providing a professional news service and helping and promoting growth in local organisations and businesses.)

Cartoon: Karen Tooth www.karentooth.com

Dominic Geiger cartoon by Karen Tooth.

Stop in at Innesgrove for a cuppa

Lush green surrounds while you have a cuppa - Gary and Connie Venables in their new cafe at Innesgrove Nursery. Photo: Olivia McInnes.ADVERTORIAL

Garry and Connie Venable’s of Innes Grove Nursery Condobolin would like to announce the opening of a cafe within the nursery.
As of Saturday the 12th March, they will be serving a range of fresh ground bean coffee as well as cold drinks including juice, iced coffee’s and iced chocolates.
Of course there will also be a range of delicious cakes, slices and cookies to perfectly complement your beverage.
The peaceful garden setting of the nursery provides the ideal spot for a quiet cuppa away from the hustle and bustle of the main part of town.
So take some time out of your busy day to drop in and see Garry and Connie for some time out and great coffee.
The cafe will be open seven days a week from 10-5 pm and 1-5 pm on Tuesdays. Take away’s are also available.

Encouraging efficiency and promoting precision in agriculture

Being precise: L-r  Michael Pfitzner, Neil McMillan and Leighton Wilksch. D.G.By Dominic Geiger

A Precision Agriculture Information Seminar was held at the Condobolin Sports Club last Thursday.
The presentation focused primarily on introducing new computer technology developed in order to make farming practices in the Central West more efficient.
Organiser Neil McMillan used the concept of ‘auto steer’ technology in tractors as an example of one of the many ways precision agriculture was helping farmers.
“With this technology a tractor will be able to go in an exact straight line, within a 2 cm margin of accuracy,” he said.  “In this way, someone can go back the following year and use the exact same tracks to make sure you don’t compact the soil and avoid disturbing the plants’ roots.
“Precision agriculture is a big area, with a lot of science focusing on it at the moment.  It has a lot to do with how to address soil variability, and matching various chemicals to the soil type.”
The presentation met a responsive and enthusiastic crowed, with a buzz of conversation surrounding the room during the lunch break.
Ian Menz from Industry and Investment NSW said he thought the information on yield mapping would be of particular interest to many farmers.
“The technology gives an incredibly detailed measurement of how much yield is coming off the crop at any set point in the field,” he said. “This then allows for extremely efficient use of resources. You would, for example, concentrate your fertilizer use in areas with low yield while spending less time on areas that produced a high yield.”

Following the weather to warmer work

Graham Gardiner in his ‘office’. DGBy Dominic Geiger

How does following the sun around Australia for the rest of your working life sound?
For Graham and Chris Gardiner, owners and sole workers at Safari Signs and Graphics, this idyllic lifestyle has been a reality for the past fourteen years.
Having set up camp briefly in Condobolin last week, the Gardiners are now taking their brightly coloured van to the Murray River region before heading north to avoid the southern winter.
“We go where there’s work and we go where it’s warm,” Graham said.
“We try to stick to the outback because I can’t stand traffic and we generally find the people friendlier.
“We also stay away from cities because they often have well established sign designing businesses already there; we find there is low supply and high demand for our services in regional towns.”
Chris said the best part of the job was seeing the incredible contrasts of the country as she and Graham travelled from place to place.
“You have the desert moonscape of Coober Pedy, the rainforests of the tropics and the mulga country of the Central West,” she said.
“We’re not going to settle down until we’re too old to drive.”
Having found a moderate amount of work in Condobolin designing signs and menu boards for the Condobolin Hotel, Chris and Graham said they may come back through the town on their way north after visiting the Murray River.
“We love our lifestyle and we love to go back to the towns we’ve visited before,” Chris said.
“We make our travel decisions by looking at a map, looking at the population of the town and looking at the weather.
“We’ll never run from work; as long as there’s work in a town we’ll stick around.”

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