Primarily sugarcane growers, Jan and Colin Taylor have taken out the 2011 Diversification Farmer of the Year Award.

Sponsored by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), the Diversification Farmer of the Year Award is part of the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards, hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, where Jan and Colin Taylor accepted their award at a gala dinner in Sydney on Wednesday, September 7.

In addition to sugarcane the Taylor’s run soybeans for the edible food market on fallow cane blocks, have tree crops of avocado, mango, lychee and bananas, runs farm stay cabins where guests catch farmed barramundi and also grow out silver perch and red claw. This year jams and chutneys were value added to tree crops.

A major plus from the fish ponds has been the option to use their water for direct irrigation by a gun travelling irrigator onto the cane farm.

This has proved a successful tool in the growing process because of the high-nutrient value of the waste fish water.

The next stage for the Taylors is the acquisition of an ice-making machine to give them direct access to the chilled fish market in the major centres of Sydney and Melbourne and adding an extended catering service to their tourism/education program for bus and school tours to visit the farms.

RIRDC senior research manager Ken Moore said the sugar industry has always been subject to considerable price and farm income variability.

“Diversification is a key strategy to counter this income variability. Colin and Jan Taylor are exemplars of successful diversification,” Mr Moore said.

The national Australian Farmer of the Year Awards, hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, are designed to promote a positive image of farmers, inspire and encourage career choices and investment interest in Australian agriculture.

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