Keeping up with the pivots

Host: Warrawagine Cattle Co.

Every year that I blog for Central Station marks the milestone that more progress has been made at the Wallal Downs pivots. It’s not until this moment that you realise how much can change in one year.

So here we go again …

Pivot 4 and 5 were delivered around October/November last year and the assembly team arrived around early December with no rain on the horizon or in the long term forecast we were having some hot days. The assembly team consisted of two guys from Southern NSW and one guy from Geraldton, WA. Scotty from Geraldton was somewhat accustomed to hot weather but I don’t think Mark and Carl were prepared for 50 degrees Celsius days.

After 2 weeks both pivot 4 and 5 were assembled and in working order and the assembly team headed off to their next job. The clearing process on pivot 4 was slow over December as it was stinking hot and the aircon had died in the loader and bull dozer. Sitting in that loader at 10am and seeing the temp gauge hit 48.9 degrees was a solid reminder that we desperately needed some rain. So night shift began … 28 degrees at night was like paradise compared to the daytime temperature. Night shift worked well until around midnight when the fog rolled in and visibility became low.

 pic-a-copyPhoto credit: Upton Centre Pivot Irrigation

Stixy has joined Tom down at the pivots and the 2 of them work extremely well together. They have accomplished a hell of a lot in the last 3 months and it really is fantastic to see. Cattle are still being fattened on pivot 1’s stand and graze. Tom and Stixy with the help of some of our other team members rotary hoed half of pivot 2 and seeded it with oats, and pivot 3 still has a great crop of sorghum growing. The soil preparation on pivot 4 has been completed and Tom and Stixy sowed oats soon after.

pic-a2-copyPhoto credit: Tom Revill

We decided to keep the sorghum in as it is a faster growing crop than the oats, and with the mustering season in full swing between Wallal and Warrawagine we need all the feed we can get. So rather than waiting 90 days for oats with no hay, we have kept the sorghum in as it only takes roughly 21 -30 days for the crop to be ready to cut and bale.

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Tom, Stixy and the Team are currently in the process of mowing and baling the first half of pivot 2 which has a great crop of Lucerne. The current cropping program will run through until September. We will then replace the oats with sorghum as the weather will be too warm to grow oats for another round.

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The production of hay and silage from our pivots is one step closer to drought proofing both Warrarwagine and Wallal. This hay also means that we shouldn’t have to buy in hay as often as we once did.

Back in May we were lucky enough to get the rain we had been hoping and rain dancing for. After a week of promising storm clouds blowing straight past, one fateful Friday arvo produced the goods. At the homestead we got 102mm and the pivots received 67mm … but unfortunately Warrawagine only got 13mm. The grass grew like wild fire and it has meant that we are able to feed weaners here at Wallal this year.

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