David’s family discovers water is gold

RELIABLE water irrigation has given Moriarty farmer David Addison the ability and confidence to succession plan with his two sons and a business that successfully supports three families instead of one.

David said irrigation access had provided increased productivity, enhanced environmental flows, new job creation and greater confidence to invest – but importantly it had also given him the security to forge ahead with succession planning.

“We have two sons and 11 years ago they began their management roles in the business,” David said. “Now, with reliable irrigation water, we have been able to buy more land and expand the onion packing business so that Mark can manage the packing venture and James can manage the farms.

“When your business goes from supporting one family to three families, there has to be growth and change. There is no doubt that irrigation water has given us the confidence to buy more land and service the loans.”

David says he is in the “mid-phase of retirement” and reiterates how important it is to embrace the ideas and innovations of the next generation. Addison Farm Produce grows a range of vegetables, including potatoes, onions, peas, beans, carrots and broccoli, as well as poppies and cereals on their 385ha farm.

The family also graze cattle on 150ha at Bakers Beach and pack about 10,000 tonnes of onions a year. Two full-time equivalents work with James on the farms, and at least 10 permanents and up to 15 casuals with Mark in the packing business. They initially purchased 240 megalitres from the Sassafras Wesley Vale Irrigation Scheme almost 10 years ago, then a further 150ML and leased an additional 100ML.

Now, with water sales open for the Sassafras Wesley Vale Augmentation, the Addisons are planning to purchase up to an additional 150ML. “Irrigation water has given us the best production gains we’ve ever had,” David said. “Prior to the scheme’s construction, managing the limited supply and determining in dry years which crops could be finished was one of our greatest challenges.

“In 2019/20, a very dry season, if we didn’t have SWIS water, we would have potentially walked away from our lower value crops at a very significant cost. “Peas would have harvested at three to four tonnes to the hectare instead of eight to nine tonnes, our bean contract would have been cancelled and poppies would have suffered.

“But thanks to irrigation, we were able to harvest all our crops without an impact on productivity. “The planned augmentation has attracted significant interest, so this shows how much value Tasmanian farmers put on reliable irrigation water. “Without Tasmanian Irrigation and this infrastructure investment by the Tasmanian and Australian Governments, our capacity to reliably grow and expand would be severely diminished.

“Water from this Tasmanian Irrigation scheme has delivered some of the best productivity gains we will ever see, which flows through to the whole community, employs more people, underpins successful businesses and helps the environment through flows in local tributaries.