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Beyond the Bale : December 2011
22 22 selling more wool September 2010 Beyond the Bale the 2011 Wool Producer of the Year, Jack Banks, says with wool on the up this is a great time to get young people back into the wool industry. “With young people it all comes back to the dollar, and with our industry starting to return some dollars now is our opportunity to get people back into it,” Jack says. Jack farms 20,000 head on 40,000ha with his wife Rhonda and two sons Will, Ben and his wife Oona, plus daughter Megan on their property ‘Springleigh’ , Blackall, in central west Queensland and doesn’t think he does anything too much different to many other Queensland producers. “A lot of Queensland sheep and woolgrowers do similar things to what we do: produce large lines of high yielding low VM wool,” Jack says. In September Jack was announced as the Wool Producer of the Year. The Award, sponsored by AWI, is part of Kondinin Group and ABC’s Rural’s Australian Farmer of the Year Awards. Launched in 2010, the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards celebrate the highly professional, innovative and sustainable approach of farmers, showcasing their passion and raising the profile of the important role they play in Australia. WILD DoGs Jack describes shearing as the high point of the year, the culmination of 12 months of doing all the little things right to maximise production on his property. While producing quality 20-micron wool is the main focus of Jack’s business, he is having to find smarter ways to protect his flock from a worsening wild dog problem that is plaguing producers and communities around Australia. So Jack is utilising satellite tracking technology to plan baiting routes. Jack stresses the importance of a co-ordinated approach to wild dog control. Working with neighbours is essential for effective baiting results. “We have had to become smarter with our baiting techniques; we have seen some dogs travel up to 200 k’s from their base camp.” Jack has been working with AWI on the Fast Facts l Jack Banks from Blackall in central west Queensland has been named Wool Producer of the Year at the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards. l Jack says he hopes he can use the award to encourage more young people back into the wool industry. l He says wild dogs are one of the biggest issues affecting his business. Wool Producer of the Year December 2011 Beyond the Bale 22 on-Farm issue of wild dogs in his former capacity of chair of the AWI extension network ‘ Leading Sheep’ . Losses caused by wild dogs are estimated, conservatively, to be costing the Australian wool industry about $24.2 million per year. LanD manaGement Land management will always be a challenge at Springleigh. The extreme drought years of 2002 to 2004 placed huge stress on his native pastures. Since then he has progressively endeavoured to improve grazing opportunities. A key step to distribute grazing pressure more evenly has seen the installation of 35km of poly pipe, taking water to 17 new watering points, Jack has also implemented a rotation grazing strategy which has resulted in improvements to ground cover. neXt GeneratIon AWI’s head of on-farm RD&E, Jane Littlejohn, says Jack shows commitment and innovation to the Australian wool industry. “Jack’s a very innovating grower, using a range of tools from ASBVs to Woolcheque to get the most out of this Merino enterprise,” Dr Littlejohn said. “ But what really impressed the judges was Jack’s support and mentoring for young people in the industry. Jack is actively involved in passing on his skills and