Diversification helps shape path through the drought

AN ability to look beyond the now and consider what a farm needs in the future is key to the success of Andrew Martin, winner of the 2019 Award for Excellence in Diversification, sponsored by Decipher.
Diversification helps shape path through the drought Diversification helps shape path through the drought Diversification helps shape path through the drought Diversification helps shape path through the drought Diversification helps shape path through the drought

Kelly Lodge-Calvert, Decipher, with Andrew and Kerrie Martin, winners of the 2019 Award for Excellence in Diversification.

staff writer

Andrew, whose farm is located on 2200 hectares between Dubbo and Narromine on the Macquarie River in New South Wales, was presented with his Award during the annual Kondinin Group and ABC Rural Australian Farmer of the Year Awards at Parliament House, Canberra.

Kondinin Group General Manager of Research, Ben White, applauded Andrew's resilient approach to his farming.

"In the midst of the most severe drought on record in NSW, Andrew has pulled out all the stops to ensure his farm endures," Mr White said.

"He is actively exploring new ways to keep the business viable while also still engaging with the local community and working with industry groups to continue building experience and knowledge in the farming sector.

"He may be the quintessential quiet achiever, but Andrew's diversification portfolio is truly impressive and will hopefully put him in a good position to see out this drought."

Andrew's farming operation, Dulla Dulla Pastoral Company, has been in his family since 1885 and Andrew puts their longevity down to not being afraid to diversify and think innovatively.

"It's being able to see what is on the horizon and make objective business decisions to ensure that you get through whatever is coming your way," Andrew said.

"Two years ago, we saw the inevitably of drought on the horizon. So improved measures for water efficiency were reviewed, funding acquired and these measures are now being implemented." 

"It's helped see us through to now and as we go forward, we will make more considerations and make more changes."

Andrew currently manages the cropping of wheat, oats, faba beans, lucerne, chick peas, canola, pigeon peas and cotton on a rotational basis depending on market and weather conditions. He also runs beef cattle and sheep.

Livestock is an essential part of the diversification strategy at Dulla Dulla however, due to the drought, Andrew has recently been forced to sell all Dulla Dulla's meat sheep, including breeders, and significantly reduce cattle numbers. It is hoped that when weather conditions are more favourable, Andrew can again run sheep and improve his cattle numbers.

Andrew has also commenced investigating the possibilities of carbon farming, milk and meat goats and Murray Cod fish farming to further strengthen the farm's diversification portfolio.

His long-term plan for Dulla Dulla is to make it more sustainable through improved agricultural and irrigation technologies.

"Innovation is a continuous cycle especially for family farms who would otherwise not survive," Andrew said.

"Each new technology available is reviewed and where practical, implemented."

Frank D'Emden, Technical Product Manager at Decipher, said when reviewing Andrew's nomination, he was thoroughly impressed with Andrew's resilience through the tough conditions being experienced throughout NSW.

"Andrew is working in the harsh reality of our agricultural industry in NSW," Frank said.

"That adversity has brought out some really innovative approaches on Dulla Dulla, including implementing new technologies to improve their farming operations and irrigation efficiencies, looking at alternative income streams and the work with the Clontarf Foundation.

"His never say die attitude is commendable, making him a very deserving recipient of this award."

The annual Kondinin Group and ABC Rural Australian Farmer of the Year Awards have been running since 2010 and continue to recognise excellence in farming and farming communities across rural and regional Australia. The 2019 Awards are supported by Platinum Sponsor WFI.

Information on all 2019 award recipients can be found at www.farmeroftheyear.com.au  www.decipher.com.au