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Beyond the Bale : February March 2009
10 Quality control February – March 2009 Beyond the Bale privileged to see what’s coming up in the future, know what products are doing well and be ready to commercialise them straight away.” – michael blake a WinninG passIon Michael Blake’s zeal for wool growing has not only netted him several prestigious awards, but also improved quality assurance and safety standards for the industry By Robin Taylor Glunin Park’ brand on a bale of superfine Merino wool that caught australian wool broker Michael crooks’ eye. When he returned to australia, Michael, who works for australian Wool network (aWn), brought with him a photo of the bale to show its very own woolgrower, Michael Blake. Within minutes of seeing the photo, Michael Blake found the record in I his wool book, the full specification details of the bale, record of sale and a sample of the wool. the episode illustrates his attention to traceability, which he considers essential to running a successful wool enterprise. ‘Bally Glunin Park’ is a family-owned property in western Victoria, run with a commitment to farm safety, sustainable production systems and support for rural research and development. the property produces 50,000 kilograms of wool, 150 tonnes of grain and 231 t of fodder, as well as prime lambs, beef and sheepmeat. in the early days, when Michael started implementing quality assurance (Qa) programs, he found that most schemes included safety standards to protect people working downstream but did not cover farm workers. So he wrote his own farm safety package, which was eventually taken up by Worksafe australia and became a national standard. in recognition, in 2007 n the Pettinatura Di Verrone wool mill in Biella, a famous wool- processing region in northern italy, it was the distinctive green ‘Bally Michael was awarded the inaugural Farmsafe Farmer of the year award. over the past 30 years, Michael has been involved in more than 75 research projects, including products for external and internal parasites, stock identification and wool selling methods. he believes being involved in farm research enables him to tap into intelligence and resources not available to the general farming community. “in pasture trials, for example, i’ve been privileged to see what’s coming up in the future, know what products are doing well and be ready to commercialise them straight away,” he says. in 2008 Michael won the naB agribusiness Primary Producer of the year award. he is excited to have his involvement in agricultural education and his passion for the australian fine wool industry recognised. “Winning this award has reaffirmed my commitment to promote and support agriculture.” Michael was one of the first producers to adopt Flockcare, cattlecare, and Environmentally Sustainable Beef Production. “at the time, 10 or 12 years ago, we were going out on a limb, but now these programs are common practice,” he says. today, ‘Bally Glunin Park’ is a member of 12 Qa programs in the beef, wool, lamb and sheepmeat sectors. concerned about mixed signals regarding wool production and supply from mulesed and non-mulesed sheep, Michael has developed a Qa “in pasture trials, for example, i’ve been Photo: BraD colliS
Dec 08 - Jan 09
April May 2009