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This website aims to develop case studies of the development of farming practices and attendant transformations of local ecologies of defined blocks of land. Through these biographies of particular plots of land we are developing localised analyses of the wider historical trends in the political economy/ecology of the Northern Rivers.

Go to: Family history | The Farm | The River | David, Jenny and the Farm | Self-sufficiency and Aquarius | Cattle and floods | The landscape | Other on-farm agriculture | Buying and selling land | Poor economic times | Family partnership on the farm | Mill politics, harvesters and cane cutters | Changing methods | Chemicals | Market impacts and government subsidies | Generational change and succession | Impact on cane growing | Environmental issues | Politics of cane and the mill | Neighbours

Other on-farm agriculture

Jenny: but we’ve got a problem of Pinus Elliottii which we grew when we had the partners…as a timber crop.

David: before the partners.

Jenny: and also with the partners. It grew out on the heath country and it was never very successful. It grew but it was difficult to harvest and didn’t bring much money in and the big problem is the seeds spread everywhere and it comes up everywhere and it’s a constant battle to try and control all the regrowth of it to this day.

David: when Dad and my uncle were here they used to try different crops. They grew cane and corn and a few legumes on the river bank but out there they tried things like pineapple and these Pinus Elliottii and tobacco. They used to get all this advice from the Ag. Department I think and put it into practice and it usually didn’t work but… I know they had no plans of growing Pinus Elliottii but the Forestry Commission was growing a lot out the other side of Woodburn and they had a lot of seedlings over and they knew the forester and he said “oh why don’t you try them down there” so that’s what happened. It would have been in the 60s I think.

Jenny: and we harvested some up until probably 4 or 5 years ago we were still doing it.

David: but we were sort of harvesting not only the ones we planted but also the ones that have come up and they never got, you know all the fancy treatment with the machines trimming the bottom branches off – they just grew up there and they grew close so they grew tall but they still had little branches on the sides of them.

Jenny: they use them for Coppers Logs, those treated pine logs.

So was there anything else that was seen to be a viable crop other than the cane? With all that experimentation?

David: not really.

Jenny: soya beans?

David: my parents didn’t grow soya beans.

Jenny: we did.

David: I only had a few gos with sort of a mixed result.

Once you came to the farm what sort of advice did you get? For example how did you go into soya beans?

David: we didn’t go into them to make money, we went in as a legume crop for the cane.

Jenny: green manure.

David: and if you get a bit back from them it’s a bonus but it’s not what you go into them for.

Did you get advice at different times from the Ag. Department or the Wollongbar lot or anything?

David: yeah the Mill gives out … they’ve got a scientific side to them and they give out a bit of advice. That’s the main source of advice.

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