Home' Grower : October 2013 Contents Lyrup grower Steve Brauer grows nine different varieties of dates on his
property and plans to expand.
The South Australian Grower -- October 2013 19
It's a date: leap of
faith in Riverland
By STEPHANIE GROPLER
THE Riverland is often
referred to as the fruit bowl
of the state and now, growers
are adding to the extensive list of
what can thrive in the region.
Lyrup grower Steve Brauer has
been growing stone fruit for most
of his life but took a leap of faith
a decade ago when he decided to
"I had an Israeli backpacker
working for me, going back 10 or
11 years ago, and we were sitting
and having a beer after work and
he asked, 'why no dates? Perfect
climate,' Mr Brauer said.
He followed up on the sugges-
tion, and has since planted 300
It was a process of trial and
error. Mr Brauer learnt that the
Riverland climate was not perfect
for dates -- but close enough.
"I lost a few with the black
frosts. Dates don't like those
minus-eight, minus-ten degree
frosts," he said.
He has nine different varieties of
dates on his property, and plans
Before his date venture, Mr
Brauer was growing nectarines
and apricots but was not satisfied
with the monetary returns.
"There is no future in stone
fruit," he said
"Dates are labour intensive but
you don't mind if it is labour
intensive if there is a quid at the
He sees many positives in grow-
ing dates despite the fact that they
need plenty of water.
"You don't have to dump the
seconds because you have the date
syrup," he said.
"They are a lot more thirsty than
vines, probably more up with the
almonds, but they will survive
without the water."
GrowSA chief executive officer
Mike Redmond said the Riverland
was on the verge of many grand
"There will be some good news
in the not so distant future which
will involve the Riverland and
create another string to a bow,"
"We are working with a private
company at the moment that is
looking at doing some contract
growing out of the Riverland, so
it would be contracting farmers to
grow on their behalf.
"The sorts of things that they
would be looking to contract are
probably standard type crops like
broccoli and a couple of other
experimental crops that they want
to play with up there, which I
probably can't talk too much
about just yet."
Mr Redmond said that though
many growers were trialling alter-
native varieties and crops, there
was positivity surrounding some
of the Riverland's more well-
"The citrus industry is worth
so much money to our state
economy, and fruitfly freedom
issues are chronically important,"
"We have got to do everything
in our power to make sure we
strengthen our borders up on
Horticulture Coalition of
SA inaugural chairman Trevor
Ranford said the recent tough
times had made growers resilient,
and willing to diversify.
"Probably the citrus industry,
and to a degree the grape indus-
try, saw a number of people leave
the industry," he said.
"But I think those that have
remained are now looking at
consolidating their position.
"There has been growth in the
almond production over the years
and certainly in one of the areas
that I work in -- pistachios.
"There are a number of growers
that are in the process of planting
more trees so I think we are seeing
some positive signs for most of the
commodities in that area going
Mr Ranford said grower resil-
ience had grown because of the
lessons they had learnt during
times of drought.
"I think growers have become
more attuned to how they can
best access water and the ability
to buy water when required," he
"I think those who are remain-
ing have come to work out what
they need to be doing to ensure
they have sufficient water for
current production and new
But new challenges for Riverland
growers were those that were out
of their hands.
"Obviously, there are ongoing
issues or areas of concern such
as biosecurity, particularly fruitfly,
for sectors that are affected by it,
such as citrus and stone fruit," Mr
"But the industry is working
with the government to ensure
that biosecurity is high priority,
and looking at the best ways to
ensure that the Riverland and its
fruitfly-free status is retained."
Date venture thrives
Region has many grand plans
Growers trialling alternatives
MDBA calls for independent
operational review of funds
By COLIN BETTLES
MURRAY Darling Basin Authority
chairman Craig Knowles is urging
the new Federal government to
help resolve tenuous funding
arrangements with the states by
rapidly approving an independent
A funding crisis was temporarily
avoided earlier this year when
Vic Water Minister Peter Walsh
committed $30.65 million to the
MDBA's river operations and
management in 2013-14, after NSW
and SA cut their funding.
According to Mr Knowles, Vic is
effectively providing a large cross-
subsidy to NSW and SA for water
management programs that have
been shared for about 100 years.
Threats to water management
programs include implementation of
the Basin Plan, major disruptions to
water delivery programs and job cuts,
mostly in the regions.
Mr Knowles has backed a
Productivity Commission review to
look at how the Basin's $3.6 billion
water management assets -- owned
by the states -- would be funded in
future, if financial support continues
He said the former Water Minister
Tony Burke had made moves for the
Commonwealth Treasurer to approve
the review, and the commission was
now "ready to go".
But that process stalled
because of the Federal election's
caretaker conventions and recent
change of government.
Mr Knowles wants the
commission's review conducted this
year to ensure the Authority's 2014-
15 budget is delivered "sensibly"
and to remove uncertainty,
while Victoria's future funding
arrangements are also subject to the
He said the review was the only
way to resolve "who pays for what"
out of the Basin States.
New Parliamentary Secretary to
the Environment Minister SA Senator
Simon Birmingham said the review
was also a priority for the new
He said he was "very eager" to
start work "as quickly as possible" to
determine a long term solution to the
MDBA's funding arrangements with
MDBA chairman Craig
Knowles says the productivity
commission's review is the
only way to resolve "who pays
for what" out of Basin States.
Philmac opens new round
of funding for water grants
AFTER an overwhelming response
in its first year, an initiative that
benefits regional Australia has
opened a new round of cash grants
for community groups with water
on their minds.
The Philmac Project will provide
grants of up to $5000 each to
organisations in five regions that
want to carry out water-related
projects benefiting rural and
The five regions are WA, SA,
NSW, Vic and Tas grouped as one,
and Qld and NT grouped as one.
The $25,000 funding scheme
is the initiative of Australian
manufacturer Philmac, which has
been designing, manufacturing and
distributing fittings and valves for
polyethylene pipes in Australia for
more than 80 years.
"We launched The Philmac
Project last year as a way of
giving something back to the rural
communities that have stood by us
over the years," said Mark Nykiel,
Philmac managing director.
"Judging by the extraordinary
response, stretching from outback
Queensland and the Northern
Territory to southern Tasmania, it
met a significant need, particularly
in smaller communities, so we
have decided to offer another
round of grants this year.
"So if a school, or sports club,
or any other sort of community
organisation in your area has a
project in mind that involves water
and benefits the local community
we would very much like to hear
from them, whether it's to install
a watering system in a community
garden, capture rainwater at a
school, or upgrade some plumbing
in the clubhouse."
Applying for a grant is easy.
Submissions are made online
through either the Philmac website
or their facebook page, using a
simple application form that asks
a few basic questions about the
The submissions will then be
posted on both facebook and the
website so that people can show
support for the projects by voting.
The five projects in each region
that attract the most votes will be
short-listed for final judging by an
To qualify, a project must be
located in a regional area, and the
work has to be completed within
12 months of the start date.
Applicants can lodge submissions
online until December 20 but the
sooner the application is made, the
more time they have to generate
PhilmacAustralia or www.philmac.
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