Home' Grower : April 2011 Contents Western Australian adviser Martin
Hockey, the intent is to
continually appraise the operation
and extend the 'knowledge base'
at every opportunity.
Rivercorp, with 142.5ha of
apples at Loxton, has expanded to
the SE to take advantage of a
cooler climate and compete for
organic premiums when, and
where, they become available.
Martin was originally employed
to improve farming practices at
NPC -- which he did by slashing
fertiliser inputs by almost 50 per
cent, rectifying nutrition
problems and doubling the
liveweight gain of lambs.
Subsequently, ASP was formed
in 2006 to give advice to
operations which preferred best
practice solutions to 'sales-based'
The company consults widely to
graziers, horticulturalists and
broadacre farming enterprises in
Queensland, New South Wales,
Victoria, Western Australian and
After consulting and achieving
good results for a major
orchardist, the progression to
establishing Rivercorp and buying
land and water rights to set up
the Loxton orchard took shape in
While Loxton (with a set-up
cost of $7m) and Nangwarry
($5m) orchards pose a different
set of problems, they are
managed to meet stringent
marketing standards with orchard
performance manager Lisa Varady
liasing with Loxton manager Karl
Hennig and his Nangwarry
counterpart Neville Tschirpig to
meet quality standards and
Rivercorp decided on the
adoption of an organic program
for the SE orchards on the basis
that cost-effective programs
developed by ASP 'fitted' with
the particular set of conditions at
Nangwarry on land leased from
NPC, which runs about 2000
Angus cattle and breeds 12000
Marketing is handled by
Thompson's, at Shepparton, and
Lenswood Cold Stores Co-
operative Society Ltd, in the
"The 'philosophy' has always
been to consider all the tools
available and be alert for new
ideas," Fergus said.
"We travel to other countries,
consult widely and, if we don't
know (or understand) something,
we make the effort to find out.
"It's all about increasing our
knowledge base. So I guess we
were getting close to organics (in
the SE) without being organic.
And the prospect of allowing us
to be as cost-competitive as
conventional growers, with
cheaper and more effective
inputs, led us to put our money
where our mouthes were."
The orchard was planted in
Fifty hectares is under pre-
certification by the National
Association of Sustainable
Agriculture Australia, with 55ha
still to go into pre-certification
next calendar year.
The plantings are 30ha to royal
galas, pink lady (30ha), fuji
(20ha), granny smith (20ha) and
sundowners (5ha). About 1800
trees to the hectare have been
established at 1.25-metre spacings
along rows 4.5m apart,
depending on the variety.
All trellis posts (about 200/ha)
and strainers (20/ha) have been
cut from eucalyptus nitens, which
WHEN investors spend
$12 million setting up
horticultural enterprise, they will
have done their homework
carefully to expect appropriate
returns on the initial capital in a
But the projections are only as
good as the agronomic advice and
the willingness of key personnel
to keep an open mind, says chief
executive officer of Rivercorp
Land & Water Fergus McLachlan.
"You can't stop learning -- or
you'll be left behind."
The company has established
105 hectares of organically-grown
apples at Nangwarry Pastoral
Company, in the Lower South
East, employing the best staff to
produce a high-quality product
that will pay dividends.
And with the support of
Australian Soil Planners, a
specialist company Fergus
established with his brother
Dugald -- CEO of NPC -- and
The South Australian Grower -- April 2011
Apples & pears
Rivercorp plans for
Manager at Nangwarry orchard Neville Tschirpig is overseeing the
development after a long career in horticulture.
A MAJOR development to grow apples in the Lower South East has been
an exercise in meticulous attention to detail and planning.
PETER BRADY reports.
We travel to other countries,
consult widely and, if we don't
know (or understand)
something, we make the effort
to find out.
-- Fergus McLachlan
Water for frost control is supplied from two 27mgL dams, sourced from
three bores and a back-up 70mgL lake.
Water is pumped via 186kw pumps that can deliver
2mgL per hour.
Organic oil products and mechanical weeders
combine to provide effective weed control.
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