Farm diversification pays off

UPPER Derwent Valley farmer Bernard Brain was yesterday named the winner of the Diversification of the Year section of the 2012 Farmer of the Year Awards. Mr Brain runs nine enterprises on his farm at Ouse, growing poppies, cabbage seed, beef cattle, lambs and wool, canola, seed potatoes, as well as fennel, malting barley, dry peas and wine grapes.

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) today congratulated Mr Brain and fellow Tasmanian winner Grant Archer (Dairy Farmer of the Year following their success at the national awards presentation in Melbourne. “Grant and Bernard are role models for our industry. We are very proud of them,” TFGA chief executive Jan Davis said.

There is not much the 1000ha Rotherwood property farmed by Bernard Brain and his family has not produced since it was established in 1822. Among its quality produce, Rotherwood grapes are being used to make Arras, which is regarded as Australia’s best sparkling wine. “The fruit coming off seven to 10 year old vines is creating great interest with unique flavours in the chardonnay that veteran wine makers have not tasted before,” Mr Brain said.

Mr Brain has a degree in rural science, which has led him to focus on integrating all aspects of agro-ecology in a farming operation. “Over the last seven years I have almost achieved my aim of drought proofing the farm by irrigation infrastructure.” Irrigation has been one of the keys to success. The property has a 3800 megalitre water licence allowing its irrigation area to be expanded by 100ha to 350ha over the past seven years with a capital investment of $1.1 million.

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