Home' On The Land : July 21st 2011 Contents THE wet winter is making things
tough for farmers, but aerial
contractor Troy Bentley isn't
His business, Air Apply, based
at Mailors Flat airport, is having
one of its busiest periods ever
as farmers call on his services
to spread urea on paddocks they
can't access by tractor.
"We're doing about five times as
much urea as we normally do and
it has started about three weeks
earlier," Mr Bentley said.
He expects his services will
be in strong demand for some
time to come, with little chance
of paddocks drying out until the
"This is good work for us
because we can do it in almost
"With spraying work we have
to wait for dry conditions, so this
is keeping us busy when we can't
spray," Mr Bentley said.
Ironically, the wet weather
through summer had the opposite
affect on Mr Bentley's business,
because the water provided a
natural control on crickets.
"We usually do a lot of cricket
spraying but they just didn't hap-
pen this year."
Mr Bentley has worked as an
agricultural pilot for 15 years,
travelling and working all over
Australia before settling in
"I got sick of the travelling and
I settled here because it is a good
reliable agricultural region," he
The aircraft used by Air Apply
is a 600-horsepower Air Tractor
that carries a tonne of fertiliser
It is powered by a nine-cylinder,
22-litre, radial engine.
Meanwhile farmers and service
providers have been learning how
to deal with the wet conditions
through seminars at Macarthur,
Timboon and Pirron Yallock.
Department of Primary
Industries dairy extension
officer Michele Ryan told
Tuesday's gathering at Timboon
that on-off grazing was the most
effective tactic to avoid pugging
"Graze for two to four hours and
then move the cows to a stand-off
area or a sacrifice paddock."
Ms Ryan said cows would eat
70 per cent of their daily intake
within two hours and up to 88 per
cent within four hours.
"After that they start walking
around and that's when most of
the damage occurs."
She stressed the importance
of supplementary feeding to give
the cows their full nutritional
Adriana Robaina, field services
manager at Warrnambool Cheese
and Butter, said production loss
in wet weather was caused by
cows getting insufficient energy
and fibre, and possibly too little
She said one indication of
these deficiencies was lack of
"If you go out into the paddock
after the cows have been grazing
for about an hour, half of them
should be chewing their cud."
Low fat and protein tests were
a strong indicator of nutritional
deficiencies, she said.
A fat test of 3.6 per cent and
protein of 3.2 per cent was typical
for a Friesian herd.
"If you see tests of less than
3.0 you've got a problem," Ms
Despite the cold and wet condi-
tions, milk production has only
Matt Morrow, field services of-
ficer with Murray Goulburn said
intake figures were tracking only
marginally below last year.
"Suppliers seem to be keep-
ing cows well fed," Mr Morrow
"We expect suppliers will
consider buying fibre, most likely
good quality hay, lucerne or vetch
to keep fibre and protein levels
up until the start of spring."
Slippery conditions on farms
have been causing problems for
tanker drivers, with many reports
of tankers sliding off tracks.
Mr Morrow praised the efforts
of suppliers in helping drivers
contend with the conditions.
THURSDAY July 21 2011 ON THE LAND 3
But there's a downside for farmers
Aerial contractor Troy
Bentley (right) is having one
of his busiest periods yet,
as rain-soaked paddocks
keep tractors out. ABOVE:
DPI pasture expert Michele
Ryan. TOP: On-off grazing
helps prevent severe
pugging like this. 110718SH56
Pictures: STEVE HYNES
THURSDAY, J u ly 21, 2011 ON THE LAND -- 3
By STEVE HYNES
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