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Beyond the Bale : Feb - Mar 08
By Kellie Penfold Nigel Kerin doesn't think of his wool-growing operation as sustainable. He prefers the term 'regenerational'. "Sustainable means staying the same," he says. "You could be drowning and, as long as you keep coming up for a breath of air, that's sustainable." Nigel says he would rather the family's wool-growing business was not staying the same but improving, and that their operation was not just sustaining the environment but regenerating it. With his wife Kate and their three young children, Nigel runs 6000 Merino ewes at 'Karuga Park', Yeoval, NSW. They are partners with Nigel's brother Mark and his wife Kim in 'GullenGamble Merino Stud'. Yeoval is in the traditional sheep/wheat zone of central NSW. Nigel grows dual-purpose wheat and barley, but this is being scaled down every year and will not lift again until he sees a better net return on the capital tied up in cropping machinery -- that is, until wheat prices consistently reach more than $240 a tonne. By his own admission, five years ago Nigel was a farmer locked into a cycle of battling high grain-growing costs, decreasing returns from wool and, as a consequence, a negative attitude. He embarked on a program of re-education through grazing-for-profit schools, livestock-management schools and the business-of-farming school. These awoke in him a realisation that what he did not know about grazing and livestock management outweighed what he did know. "Fifteen years ago we were producing prickly, 22.5-micron wool from sheep that were highly dependent on chemicals due to a lack of knowledge of grazing management, strategic worm control and our approach to sheep breeding," he says. "By changing our thinking, and through further education, we now have beautiful, soft, white wool with 100 per cent comfort factor, produced on quick-maturing, plain-bodied sheep that are easy to manage with virtually no chemical use at all." Classer Jim Watts began classing for the Kerins 15 years ago and introduced plain-body, early-maturing Merino sheep, which have resulted in a lowering of the EMBRACING CHANGE IS THE MEASURE OF 'green' progress After re-thinking his operation, Nigel Kerin is turning a profit even in tough years by working with the environment, starting with a holistic approach to pasture management, cell grazing and maintaining ground cover 8FARM MANAGEMENT BEYOND THE BALE
Feb - Mar 08 Supplement
Apr - May 08