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Roberts NZ study tour

From the 21st- 29th of April, Roberts Limited hosted 26 customers on a study tour to New Zealand. The trip was a great success with a broad range of customers being able to find something of interest as the group toured the South Island of NZ.
The tour based themselves in Queenstown for the first few nights, visiting properties including a whiskey distillery & vineyards; deer, sheep & cattle farms; along with seeing the sights of Queenstown. From there they moved north visiting the current NZ farmer of the year on their fine wool & cattle farm before stopping for the night at Omarama.

Damian Meaburn, Ryan Ashby, Andrew Calvert, Scott Reardon & Scott Leighton after their helicopter ride at Cattler Flat Station at Wanaka

For the rest of the trip the group was based at Methven and visited everything from potato growers & chip processors through to bull beef, dairy grazing, intensive lamb fattening and robotic dairy operations. The group also toured a sock making facility (that makes socks out of Tasmanian Merino wool).

The Tour Group at Glenfalloch on the edge of Rakaia Gorge.

Andrew Calvert lead the group and was joined by Scott Leighton, Richard Mollineaux, Damian Meaburn, Nick Towns & Ryan Ashby. The trip was a great success and we look forward to sharing details of similar study tours moving forward.

Slug Control in Tasmanian Crops and Pastures

With recent good rainfalls in Tasmania it is imperative to be on the lookout for slugs on emerging crops. Slugs are a serious pest on many crops and pastures, as adoption of minimum tillage practices increase on Tasmanian farms.



Less tillage combined with retention of residues (stubbles) enables greater food sources and shelter for these pests. Slugs can kill seeds and eat plant tissue on germinating, often whole seedlings are consumed. Slug damage is often under estimated as they are mostly active at night.



Metarex from Agnova was originally developed for European conditions, and performs long after inferior baits have collapsed. Metarex has a consistent pellet size that flows smoothly and spreads evenly for optimum coverage. The unique formulation is resistant to shattering which means more baits reach the ground when applied by spinner type spreaders. With approximately 60,000 baits per kilogram, Metarex has a consistent size and number of effective bait points per square metre, that provides optimum crop and pasture protection.

Metarex is an all-weather slug and snail bait that provides fast, consistent control, even under wet and difficult conditions in Tasmania. Paddock monitoring early morning or evening is essential for determining the presence of slugs and snails. A wet hessian bag or slug mat placed on newly sown paddocks should be standard agronomic practice.

For more information contact your local Roberts agronomist in Tasmania.


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Clover Hill Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year, 2016

Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year, 2016 Clover Hill

An enjoyable time was had by all at the Clover Hill Tea Tree Vineyard Field Day this week. Roberts were proud sponsors with The Royal Agricultural Society of Tasmania, approximately 70 grape growers and industry representatives attending the day.

Congratulations to Alex and the team at Clover Hill, they are exceptional role models for other grape producers and outstanding ambassadors for Tasmania’s sparkling wine industry.



New Electrocoup Pruners, Roberts,Tasmania 2016

 Infaco launched their new Electrocoup electric pruner on the 8th of April, 2016 in France just in time for the Tasmanian pruning season.
  Keeping up with their traditional cadence of releasing a new model once every 5 years there were no surprises when the model was called the Electrocoup F3015. This model is tipped to be the next big thing with regards to power assisted pruning tools in the industry. It certainly is amazing when you look back on the last 30 years and the 7 previous models how the these tools have evolved.

Infaco has spent the last five years working on the new model improving the design and performance of the pruners and had been as tight lipped as ever on what the next generation would offer. Watch the video below to see some of the improvements that have been made,



The 3015 model is a significant evolution from the current 3010 design. While looking superficially similar, beneath the covers lies a major advancement in design, motor and circuitry, powered by futuristic battery technology.


Adjust Blade Overlap Position

  Advanced Motor and Circuitry
New light weight brushless motor & new circuit boards with water resistant coating
New Outer Covers
Soft and comfortable NON SLIP grip
Double sealed water resistant covers
electrocoup-roberts-New Outer Covers
Inner body made up of a special alloy used in aeronautics 
New LED Light System
ON – OFF indicator, Battery life indicator, Troubleshooting aid
electrocoup-roberts-new led light system
electrocoup-tasmania-on off switch
ON-OFF Switch
Power switch on the shear
No more control box
Adjust Half Open Position
Adjust Half Open Position
10 pre-set half open positions
Adjust Blade Overlap Position
Adjust Blade Overlap Position 
10 pre-set blade overlap positions

Post Sown Weed Control in Pastures and Cereals Field Day, Tasmania 2016

Post Sown Weed Control in Pastures and Cereals Field Day, Tasmania 2016
Tuesday 19th April 2016 at  9 – 11 am
‘Greenside’ property (Brian & Jenny Baxter), 163 Baxters Rd, Pipers River.
Field Day-Managing post sown weed infestations in cereals & pasture – including herbicide resistant weed management
Dr Chris Preston – (Associate Professor at Weed Management School, University of Adelaide)
Wednesday 20th April 2 – 4 pm (as per flyer)
‘Ormley’ property (Jamie & Michelle Loane), 3635 Esk Main Rd, Fingal Valley.
Field Day
Controlling Post Sown Weeds in Pastures - Cereals - Fingal V 20.4

Cover Crop Paddock Walk 11 April, 2016

2016 Tasmania Roberts cover crop roadshow


Roberts in conjunction with Pasture Genetics invite you to attend the
2016 Fodder Beet Field Day.




Throughout the Field Day we will be covering the following topics:
•     Paddock Selection:
• Crop agronomy and growth requirements
• How to perform accurate crop yield assessment and budgeting
• Livestock management and transitioning onto crop
• Future potential of the crop in Tasmania
Guest Speaker: Gavin Milne, Technical Manager (Fodder Beet Specialist), DLF Seeds New Zealand
date: Tuesday 15th March 2016
Time: 1.30 pm tea/coffee for 1.45 pm start
(approx. 1.5 hour duration)
Location: Woodrising Dairy Farm, Delmont Road, Cressy, Tasmania
(signs to be erected on day)
Ryan Ashby or Campbell Town Store
by 5 pm Monday 14th March.
Ryan Ashby: 0408 012 621
Store: 03 6381 1523
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Seeds Pasture Guides for Australian Farmers



For over 75 years, PGG Wrightson Seeds has been giving Australian farmers a hand to help them get the best value and return from their land. This commitment is reflected in the new PGG Wrightson Seeds Pasture Guide, covering our temperate range of grasses and cereals, the Lucerne Management Guide, for everything you need to know about our Lucerne cultivars, the Brassica Guide for brassica management and details our range of brassica products. These guides will enable you to find the right seed for your needs.

To order your copy of the latest guides visit 

David Squibb
Sales Manager – Southern Region
PGG Wrightson Seeds


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Success with Growing Forage Brassicas, Tasmania


Success™ with Forage Brassicas starts with Success Neo.

Success Neo Insecticide from Dow AgroSciences provides control of a wide range of caterpillar insects in many crops.  Reliable control of diamondback moth in forage brassicas gives graziers the potential to again consider this high quality, low cost feed as part of their production system.


Agronomist Dan Sutton from Roberts, Smithton, Tasmania agrees:  “They’ll now be able to grow forage brassicas without fear of losses that have plagued intensive farming.  It crosses over dairy, sheep and beef operations.  A lot of the mixed cropping operations will be able to now consider forage brassicas as part of their farming enterprises, with Success NEO delivering outstanding diamondback moth control.  It’s very effective.”

Forage brassicas can provide quick and abundant feed, with high digestibility, energy, and protein, resulting in excellent livestock weight gains.  Forage brassicas also provide a ‘break’ in the cycle for weeds and disease and can inhibit the growth of disease-producing organisms and reduce the incidence of nematodes.

While producers have long been aware of the benefits of forage brassicas, the major downside has been the risk of large-scale crop damage posed by diamondback moth.  The risk of crop loss is so high in some areas that farmers have turned away from growing forage brassicas and have actively been looking for alternatives. Diamondback moth (DBM) is so prevalent in Australia in spring and summer that it is normal to find larvae (caterpillars) in forage crops such as turnips, rape or Pasja.



Diamondback Moth have become resistant to most of the current chemical options.  Resistance to synthetic pyrethroids and organophosphates is now so widespread as to render these older chemicals ineffective.  Although these chemicals are ineffective on DBM they continue to be used for other pests.  As they are broad spectrum products, they decimate beneficial insect populations, biological control fails and the result is even worse crop damage.

Success Neo Insecticide gives excellent control of DBM, and since it is also selective to the main beneficial insects, it allows them to provide a secondary means of control.  It has a high level of environmental and user safety and defined stockfeed withholding periods make it easy to manage.


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Does Prem Shearing for Drought Lots Pay?

Following a tough spring in many regions, consideration is being given to putting sheep in feedlots in order to preserve improved pastures. One of the issues with feedlots is the loss of style (basically the drop in yield) and usually a drop in staple strength from changes in diet. This article takes a quick look at the effect of selling low yielding, low strength wool versus shearing sheep before putting into a feed lot.

In the example shown below shearing normally takes place in June. In Figure 1 an estimate of per head income and costs (shearing and crutching) are given for 2016 and 2017. Prices were taken for 18-18.5 micron wool from December. For the 2016 shearing it is assumed the wool sold is generally priced as pieces, with a low yield and tensile strength. The (true) extreme story of a broker putting a butt of wool from sheep out of a feed lot following the 2002 drought on the scales, and being overweight, comes to mind. The wool sold in 2017 is assumed to revert to a standard specification, cutting around 3 kg clean per head.

Roberts blog article FIG 1-jan2016

15 years ago the prospect of selling fleece wool at pieces prices meant a hefty discount in the order of 25-30%. In comparison pieces in 2015 generally have been selling for a discount in the order of 8-10%. In this example the wool has been discounted by 8% for the low yield and strength.


Figure 2 shows the income and costs (assuming shearing only) for sheep shorn in January 2016 upon entry to the feedlot, with an adjustment shearing in the following spring and finally a third shearing to bring them into line in June 2017 with the normal program. As the article in November showed there is a only small discount for short stapled wool, so the income from the three shearings is close to that of the two shearing scenario. Cost wise the three shearings (assumed to be $7 per head) outweigh the cost of tow shearings and two crutchings.

The net effect is given in Table 1, with the normal two shearing program coming out in front, despite the 2016 clip being priced as pieces. You can run adjusted scenarios for you own operations, but from a wool quality perspective introducing extra shearings in order to avoid discounts at sale does not stack up.

Table 1: Nett effect of different shearing regimes
Total    Prem Shearing Standard
Kg clean     6.4                     6.4
Income      $85.00                  $86.00 
Costs      $21.00                         $19.00 
Net              $64.00          $67.00 
Source: AWEX, Independent Commodity Services

Key points:

 Wool style (yield) and staple strength deteriorate in drought lots.
 Discounts for wool with low yield and staple strength are minimal by the standards of the past two decades.
 Extra shearings to avoid offering lower yielding/ lower strength wool do not stack up given the current wool market price structure.

What does this mean?

15-20 years ago discounts for low yield and low staple strength were punitive. The strength of the cardings market has reduced discounts for short staple wool and pieces types. This means that spending money in order to preserve wool yields and staple strength, in the face of putting sheep into a drought lot, does not really stack up.

Would you like more of this analysis?

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