A hefty $30,000 saving on his fertilizer bill, improved plant vigour and ground cover has resulted in a healthy triple bottom line for North East farmer Tony Iaria. The Iaria family run a diverse enterprise mix – a 300-cow dairy, a Limousin stud, fodder crops, chestnuts, cherries, hazelnuts, and a pick-your-own berry orchard. With rising fuel, machinery and labour costs compounded by lower farm-gate returns, Tony looked for ways of driving down production costs across all enterprises. He found a solution in the organically certified soil rejuvenator, TM Agricultural, which uses plant extracts to stimulate indigenous soil microbes. He simply applies the TM Ag as a liquid spray at 250mls/ha two to three times a year on all crops and pastures – on the chestnut orchard alone the fertilizer bill has been slashed from $35,000 to $1500 a year.

The turning point came three years ago when the Iaria family established their 300 cow dairy at Mt Beauty on river flats previously used for beef cattle grazing. Keen to improve the pastures at minimal cost, Tony took the advice of his sharefarmer Lucas O’Brien and replaced single super with TM Ag. Produced by Best Environmental Technologies, the Australian Organics certified TM Agricultural restores natural biological processes, creating the ideal environment for the preferred higher plant species. “We were so impressed with the performance of the dairy pastures, we decided to stop using single super rates of 100kg/ha on our Mt Beauty beef property and only use TM Ag,’’ Tony said. The 202ha beef property supports 60 stud Limousin females, supplying bulls to regional vealer producers. In the family’s 110ha orchard, High Grove, at Stanley, Tony had battled to establish grass cover under the chestnut tree canopy despite using high rates of natural fertilisers (poultry manure and trace elements) in the past. “Over the last two years I have not used any other fertilizer except TM Ag on the chestnuts – there is now good grass cover under the tree canopy, while tree growth and fruit set has been outstanding,’’ Tony said. The trees yielded 2.5 tonnes a hectare last year.  The family is the second largest chestnut producer in the North East with up to 6000 trees of mainly Purdon’s Pride and Premium Ezi-peel varieties. They aim to produce the large L1-L3 nut sizes to obtain premium prices in the Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne wholesale markets.

Set on the slopes of Mt Stanley at an altitude of 800m, High Grove receives 1250mm a year and is drip-irrigated from two bores. Over the summer months High Grove is swarming with visitors picking berries for eating, cooking and preserving. Four hectares is devoted to more than 10 different varieties of berries grown on open 1.5m high trellises. Soil tests are carried out during winter, with an organic fertilizer of poultry manure and trace elements applied in spring at one tonne/hectare. The TM Ag is applied at 250mls/ha before rain in late autumn and spring. Weeds are controlled mechanically. Tony has been impressed by an increase in earthworm numbers, greater fruit quantity and quality. “Cane growth has been more vigorous than in the past and this is important as the new canes carry next year’s crop,’’ he said. “The berries are firmer and yields have been the best on record.’’ A growing public awareness of food quality and safety means Tony is often queried about the inputs used on the vines. “It’s good to be able to say that TM is an organic registered input,’’ he said. “Regardless of what field of agriculture we are in, it all starts with healthier soil. “I’m convinced with TM Ag that the results speak for themselves and, with input costs escalating and farm-gate prices coming down, whatever I can save is a bonus.’’

Media Release By

Kim Woods | Director

Outcross Media | www.ogacreative.com.au
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