Modernisation benefits to flow

By Country News

Future primary producers have been gifted an opportunity according to Toolamba fruit grower Peter Hall, who says irrigation modernisation will build a stronger industry.

The 56-year-old orchardist and father of three, who teaches physics part-time to secondary students, said the $2billion Connections project had also prompted the industry to think more about water usage.

As a a member of the Connections Project Stakeholder Consultative Committee and an irrigator, he has first-hand knowledge of the project.

Peter’s 20-year-old son Nathan and 27-year-old nephew Jordan both work for the Hall family business, which now spans four generations.

Together, brothers Peter, Todd and Shane irrigate about 360ha growing apples, pears, stone fruit and pomegranates.

The Hall family also runs Integrity Fruit, a joint fruit packing operation.

‘‘I remember we would play in the channel that had a rusty old water wheel getting to the end of its life, there were lots of leaks, the system was inefficient and difficult to manage, I would imagine,’’ Peter said.

‘‘We would flood irrigate and staged water based on it not being too muddy.

‘‘We view water much more carefully now.

‘‘People here have been characterised as prepared to take a little bit of a risk and prepared to be innovative.

‘‘These days, we have refugees looking for a new start ... In the Goulburn Valley, we offer an opportunity to have a crack and do something a bit different and reimagine ourselves.’’

Peter said the Connections project fostered these attitudes.

‘‘It gives us the capacity to make something out of nothing.

‘‘The project will sustain people who want to have a go at creating a food operation in the Goulburn Valley.’’

Connections project director Frank Fisseler said the project was protecting the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District’s status as a source of high-security water.

‘‘The project enhances the sustainability of our entire region,’’ Mr Fisseler said.

‘‘Importantly, it ensures confidence in the agricultural sector in the GMID.’’