INSIGHT

NSW farmers show innovation and resilience are keys to success

Kondinin Group and ABC Rural 2023 Australian Farmer of the Year winners: Tess and Andrew Herbert.

 Kondinin Group and ABC Rural 2023 Farmer of the Year awarded to Tess and Andrew Herbert

Kondinin Group and ABC Rural 2023 Farmer of the Year awarded to Tess and Andrew Herbert

New South Wales duo, Tess and Andrew Herbert, aren't afraid to take on a challenge and it is their tenacity and effective business agility that earns them the title of Kondinin Group and ABC Rural 2023 Australian Farmer of the Year.

Tess and Andrew are the directors of Gundamain Pastoral Co., a sixth-generation farming enterprise in Eugowra, Central West NSW.

When Tess and Andrew assumed operational control in the 1990s, the business identified as a small, mixed farming enterprise. With the construction of a new feedlot in 2000, the business grew rapidly. Gundamain now involves a 6000 head cattle feedlot, 6500- 7000 ewes for lamb and wool production, 5500 hectares (ha) of cropping, hay silage and pasture, with some 400ha of remnant vegetation.

Tess and Andrew consider the feedlot to be the heart and soul of Gundamain Pastoral Co., and are proud to include their three adult children in the intergenerational family farm.

"The feedlot provides a sustainable feeding environment for all Gundamain-owned cattle for both our domestic and export markets," Tess said.

"Lot feeding is a different approach to caring for our livestock but one we take very seriously, and it has had a positive impact on our farming operation. Schools and universities also use it for group visits, as it provides a unique opportunity to get up close with our incredible livestock and a chance to learn more about this feed option."

Ben White, Kondinin Group's General Manager of Research, said Tess and Andrew were outstanding recipients of the 2023 Award.

"The Herbert's innovative mindset has put them in a significant position to successfully navigate business and environmental challenges while maintaining a passion for farming," Ben said.

"Their extension to lot feeding, investment in infrastructure, use of technology across multiple areas of the farm and their involvement within industry and their local community is substantial and deserving of praise."

The Herbert's are early adopters of technology - utilising software systems for individual animal management, cropping and pasture management, human resources and safety.

"The Herbert's approach to integrating technology into their day-to-day business has enabled them to farm productively and efficiently," Ben said.

"Their use of tech to negate issues such as labour shortage and energy production is inline with issues many farmers are facing, and their proactive management demonstrates how tech can be a positive inclusion in a farming enterprise."

Tess and Andrew pride themselves on their ability to adapt and be flexible in the face of challenge. They were recently put to the test when, in November 2022, Eugowra was hit by flash flooding. The result was disastrous for the town, causing widespread destruction.

"We are currently in recovery mode following the November flood," Andrew said.

"We had to replace fencing, rebuild roads and stockyards. We lost some livestock and pasture, and canola that was ready for harvest. We estimate the damage to the business was in the millions and has set us back years.

"Our region is a major employer in the agricultural industry - we alone employ 20 staff - and the floods have had a big impact. But we are a resilient bunch and I know that we have set up strategies at Gundamain that will help us get through this rebuild period."

Andrew and Tess Herbert are the 13th winners of the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural Australian Farmer of the Year award. The annual awards program has been running since 2010 and continues to recognise excellence in farming and farming communities across rural and regional Australia.

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