Enabling Flexible and Innovative Farming
Oscar is a sixth generation NSW farmer, whose family farm has been in use since 1872. On their farm Oscar runs cattle and grows crops including linseed, chickpeas, wheat and barley. He, along with many other NSW farmers, is trying as hard as possible to conserve the environment on the land and make the farm profitable, within the current laws.
All of the cropping on Oscar's farm is done using GPS technology. GPS steering allows each tractor to drive on the same path within 2cm of accuracy. Weed-seeking technology prevents overlaps in crop spraying and helps Oscar reduce the overall amount of spray used through precision farming. However, despite the innovative nature of these techniques supporting better productivity and being more environmentally friendly, unmanaged native landscape issues, such as isolated paddock trees, can still cause issues.
"Weeds sprout up underneath the trees we can't spray, spreading their seeds across the paddock. To combat this we have to circle the trees more frequently, and spray more often in order to control those weeds. The CSIRO has estimated that spraying around an individual paddock tree can cost between $300 - $1200 per tree."
Removing paddock trees would enable farmers to maximise existing GPS tracks, minimising soil erosion and increasing productivity. Oscar proposes offsetting the removal of paddock trees by planting more trees in a designated conservation area.
Oscar has identified an area of his land that he believes is a biodiversity hotspot and has seen an increase in wildlife such as birds, lizards and frogs. As such, he has chosen to leave that section of land to return to its natural state, to encourage even greater biodiversity. Oscar believes that being able to actively manage the area by removing more pests - such as pigs, foxes, and cats - would further improve the chances for native animals and birds and increase the land's biodiversity further still.