Cropping on Cape York

Dawn of new era in agriculture on Cape York


Tony Matchett, Tableland Fertilizers, and Paul Ryan, Fairview, Laura, are spearheading the start of a new high-value agricultural industry on Cape York. Photo Lea Coghlan.

Tony Matchett, Tableland Fertilizers, and Paul Ryan, Fairview, Laura, are spearheading the start of a new high-value agricultural industry on Cape York. Photo Lea Coghlan.

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A Cape York grazier and agronomist are spearheading the development of a new agriculture industry in the region.

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Cape York celebrated the dawn of a new era in agriculture last week with a series of dryland cropping trials unveiled on a remote cattle property.

Around 50 people gathered at Fairview Station, the Laura property of the Ryan family, who are spearheading an attempt to create a new industry on the Cape.

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is participating, along with agronomist Tony Matchett, Tableland Fertilizers, and other stakeholders.

Mr Matchett said the field day looked at demonstration trials of different crops being evaluated for the development of a cropping system on the lower Cape.

Crops under trial include sorghum, rice, mungbeans, guar and sunhemp, while recently planted winter crops including wheat, chickpea and canola were also inspected.

Music by audionautix.com

Music by audionautix.com

“Sesame as an oil seed looks fantastic,” Mr Matchett said. 

“Mungbeans is outperforming everything at the moment and a rice system could fit in real well up here.”

The trial is in its second year and Mr Matchett said it had attracted the support of various stakeholders who were enthusiastic about advancing a new industry for the region.

“We are trying to turn it into reality,” Mr Matchett said.

He said there was significant potential for high value sustainable agriculture on Cape York.

Rice (in foreground) an sorghum (background) under trial on Fairview Station, Laura.

Rice (in foreground) an sorghum (background) under trial on Fairview Station, Laura.

“We had below average rainfall this year,” Mr Matchett said. 

“We had 300mm of pre-crop rain and only 300mm of in-crop rain.

“We think we will be able to get sensational commercial yields off these plots.

“They could suit high value grains for the export market or even cropping scenarios that fit well and dovetail into pastoral operations.”

Mr Matchett said a harvester would be brought into harvest the trial plots in the coming weeks.

He said the next step would involve larger, broadscale farming. “Our aim is for two separate CRC Developing Northern Australia grants to take demonstration work to rigorous scientific trials,” Mr Matchett said. 

“We choose those crops that have good high value and take that into commercial production.” 

Sorghum trials.

Sorghum trials.

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