19 September, 2023

In September, Cert IV students had the opportunity to spend the week in the Riverina, visiting a number of industries. This included Union Agriculture’s Bobbara Station, a 10 000ha mixed farming operation that also provided some great environmental aspects given that also have a lime mine situated in the centre of the property.

De Bortli Wines provided an insight into the wine industry, including the technology behind blending, differing glass densities and improvements in cask wine storage as well as their agricultural farms where re-use water from the winery is blended with irrigation water. Aquna Murray Cod explained their rearing and distribution facility and pond to plate philosophy. That Afternoon was spent at Southern Cotton for a tour of the ginning plant and a visit to their neighbouring Voyage Craft Malt Distillery that provides vertical integration opportunities for Southern Cotton’s cereal farms.

The following day saw visits to a 40ha mandarin property operated by the Morris family providing Delite and Afourer Mandarins to national supermarkets. 20ha of these trees under net to manage cross pollination and with state-of-the-art irrigation equipment, are watered every hour with just 1-2mm of water and fertiliser. Next stop, Bellevue Pastoral, a 10,000ha property comprising of 120 000 Almond Trees managed very similarly to the mandarins as well as winter cereal and cotton. Students had the opportunity to see a Cotton harvester in action and modules being carted from the paddock before attempting the siphon challenge. The final stop for the day was the Dal Broi family, operating a 400ha parcel under some regenerative agricultural principles, with catch crop and cereal planting on cotton rows increasing water storage and soil bug life.

The final day saw the students spend most of the day at Warakirri Cropping, where former Tocal Lecturer Matt Notley is Operations Manager of this 20 000ha aggregation. Students spent the day assessing some Warakirri’s Canola, Wheat and Barley crops as well as break crop mix they are using to clean up paddocks, feed trade lambs to then provide nitrogen for the following Canola crop, before getting an opportunity to inspect all the machinery before departing to the Altora Ag JV site where they store and transport by both road and rail approximately 300 000t of grain annually.

Six current Tocal students were accompanied to Sydney for the RASF Scholarship Award presentation night at Sydney Olympic Park. Tocal awardees included students from all Tocal’s fulltime courses. They received their Scholarship Certificates from Mr Dennis Wilson, representing the Patron, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC, Governor of New South Wales. Each student also introduced themselves, described their pathway to Tocal, career aspirations and gratitude for the $8,000 scholarship. Great networking with RASF Board, councillors and scholarship donors occurred, as well as with the other two awardees present, final year Medicine and Veterinary Medicine students.