Dry weather farming at Berrimal

Title: Agriculture Victoria —  Strategies for dry weather farming in central Victoria —  Stephen Pool — Berrimal

Vision: Map showing location of Berrimal to Melbourne —  Trees — The Pooles sign

Slide: The Kurrajongs, Berrimal Victoria

Stephen Poole —  The Kurrajongs

'My name is Stephen Poole, and I've been farming here since —  a fifth generation farmer here. And since we selected the land in —  the first piece of land here in 1882.'

Slide: Water carting

Stephen Poole speaking:

'Yes. This is the first year that we've had to cart water onto the farm for livestock.'

Vision: Windmill —  dry farmland and dam — Stephen Poole speaking:

'With the previous dry years in the past, have all been catered for by either large storage dams or underground water which in this case is spring water, not deep water.'

Vision: Water truck arriving at tank

'All the deep water here is too salty. Yes, water carting is one of the worst jobs you can do.'

Vision: Stephen Poole connecting pipe to tank —  filling tank —  truck leaving —  Stephen Poole speaking:

'And it's, unfortunately for us, been very expensive, and it's been something that's almost unsustainable, because when we add our fuel costs, our time, and also our distribution costs to that, it's become a big problem, and one that we've never encountered before. So on top of having the impact of the financial pressure of three dry seasons, we've also got the impact of the cost of carting this water and its distribution.'

Slide: Stock containment —  Stephen Poole speaking:

'The stock containment areas have been another part of my farming business, or enterprise, that has evolved.'

Vision: Sheep in paddock —  Stephen Poole speaking:

'And I join my ewes in them, and I've been able to come up with regimes now that give me good conception rates.'

Vision: Stephen Poole feeding sheep —  Stephen Poole speaking:

'And the efficiency of them for feeding sheep, I am able to feed 1500 ewes in 15 minutes, and so it's a very efficient way of actually drought feeding livestock.'

Slide: Stock numbers and opportunities —  Stephen Poole speaking —  sheep:

'Everybody in this district will tell you that it's the livestock part of their farms that keeps them going through these dry times.'

Stephen Poole speaking:

'Even though we didn't have —  the season had virtually collapsed by the middle of September.'

Vision: Dried up dam

'We had no paddock feed and no water.'

Stephen Poole speaking:

'We were able to take advantage of the farmers close by on large acreages with no livestock, with their non-viable crops, which weren't worth harvesting, was very suitable to livestock for a quick return. And lambs, store lambs in good condition that could be turned over in a couple of months, were a good option for them and a good option for me. And I would never have been able to finish them profitably from that time on. So in other words it was a timely result for this particular year.'

Vision: Farm —  shed

'Probably the most critical part is to not have your eggs in one basket.'

Stephen Poole speaking:

'And when it comes down to these seasons that fail miserably, like the last two particularly here have, when you —  we're reliant on cropping in a dry land situation, and you don't get enough rain to finish that crop, there's nothing you can do. It's out of your control as to what you can do about that crop. But by having part of your enterprise taken by livestock, or a livestock production system, there are things that you can do. And even with the minimal rainfall that we had, there are ways of producing enough feed off your farm from that little bit of rain, and conserving some of it, to actually sustain that livestock enterprise, part of your enterprise, and actually be profitable with it.'

Slide: Agriculture Victoria - Drought. Don't go it alone

Special thanks to Stephen and Lisa Poole - The Kurrajongs

Victoria State Government - Speaker: Authorised by the Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne

Page last updated: 15 Jun 2021