Sunday, February 5, 2012

Angus Whyte Guest Blogger

                                                      Gus, Kelly and Mitchell Whyte

Welcome all to the first of “Gus’s Guest post”, a big thank you to Grahame for allowing me to have room on his wonderful blog. 
First up I’d better introduce myself, my name is Angus (Gus) Whyte and I’m married to the wonderful Kelly and we have a beautiful (read bloody naughty) 8 yr old boy Mitchell.  We live on a 12,500ha property on the Anabranch River in Western NSW where we graze sheep and cattle as well as from time to time opportunistically crop some of our flood country.

I’m a fourth generation landholder in the area, my parents live on another property about 20km away and we help them with the running of their property when required. 
Our philosophy for managing the land is to work in harmony with Mother Nature rather than against her and that in the production of our beautiful produce we must make sure that the land consistently improves. 

So to achieve this we have a system of strict rotational grazing that involves different species and densities as well as rest, we provide a diversity of management to achieve a diversity of plants.  We also strive to use as little chemical as possible so that we enhance the natural predators/defenses that are available to our stock to keep them healthy.

Our attitude is that everything that happens on our place is our concern; weeds are plants with a story and it is up to us to interpret that, animal health is a dietary problem and again we need to change our management. 

Kelly and I came from a culture of “conservative set stocking” (putting the amount of stock in a paddock that the area can run conservatively year in year out) and our focus was clearly on making sure that we look after the health and well being of the animal (as that is the only way we make money??).  We ran purely merino sheep and considered ourselves “good producers” as we produced a very nice animal and fibre, we drenched when required, jetted as required etc.

The outcome of this was a landscape that was declining in health every way you measured it, us working 6-7 days a week and at the end of the year receiving very little money, this was a major driver to change. 

We have always sought to run the best possible agricultural business from the time I came home from Longreach Pastoral College (same as Grahame), by always striving to do better we have been asking lots of questions, mainly of ourselves.  This lead to an involvement in Catchment Management and natural resource management, where over time I “arrived” at answers to some of our questions.

Certainly this put me more in touch with the landscape and alerted me to things such as that after every major drought carrying capacity of the landscape had decreased by about 10-20% so over time since about 1860 when the area was settled the landscape had probably “lost” 80% of it’s carrying capacity, what a great opportunity there was to rehabilitate the wonderful landscape and have not only more produce, healthier produce. 

In the my next blog guest post I’ll discuss the difficulties of change in a very conservative environment.
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