Saturday, 15 August 2009

Keeping our Farming Business Simple

One of our goals is to keep our core agricultural activities as simple as possible. We define agriculture as the capture, packaging and marketing of sunlight/photosynthesis derived products. On Ochre Arch this is currently the business of growing grass which is directly accessed by livestock to produce progeny, meat or fibre.
To reduce the risk of stock poisoning we’ve been working on getting rid of the Oleander (Nerium oleander) shrubs just to the north of the cottage near where the original house. In this photograph you can see the results of a full day’s exertion, removing the branches and leaves.

An attempt was made to dig out the roots and base stems of one of the shrubs. To say this was a significant challenge would be a gross understatement as the base is akin to some species of Bamboo. In the digging process we uncovered the three bottles you can see in the following photograph.

The beer-bottle was manufactured in 1935, which lead us to think that maybe the Oleanders were planted then by the Bokeyar family. They purchased the farm at about that time.We then allowed the Oleanders to re-grow for a short period and applied a well-known Glyphosate based product; however before too long the re-growth was thicker than ever. Rather than hire or call in help in the form of a tractor or similar our latest approach has been to cover the remaining Oleander shrub with tarpaulin as you can see in this photograph. Eliminating solar energy flow to the leaves and reducing access to water should hopefully do the trick in at least killing the plants. In time it should also be easier to then remove the remaining stumps.

Over many years trees of various species have regenerated on the fence-lines. Whilst these do provide valuable habitat they also create additional cost and time wastage through damaging the fences. Examples include trees growing through the netting and around the wire, contact accelerates rusting, and branches and in time the trees themselves fall on the fence. Given that we are seeing and permitting tree regeneration in the paddocks themselves we’ve decided to progressively kill those trees that are on the actual fence-lines by either lopping or ring-barking. Here you can see one of the White Cypress Pine trees we’ve ring-barked.
What we found particularly curious about this tree was that it took in excess of 6 months before the tree showed any signs of being ring-barked. We’d expected the impact to be evident in just a few days.

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