Rural

Optimism in the air and soil for farmers across region

Farmers like Kalbar's Michael Rieck can take part in council's Rural Trees Initiative.
Farmers like Kalbar's Michael Rieck can take part in council's Rural Trees Initiative. David Nielsen

A FLOOD year, then a recovery year.

Another flood year, and another recovery year.

It's been the unwelcome pattern Ipswich region farmers have lived through since 2011 but on the back of two good years, it appears the pattern has broken.

Farmers like Kalbar's Michael Rieck are now looking forward to good growth thanks to farm-friendly local conditions in 2015 and a healthy-looking wet season so far this year.

More than 30mm of rain has fallen in the first days of 2016 and the region escaped most of the effects of drought that have hit farms in the north and the west of the state since 2014.

"We look for this kind of rain at this time of year," Mr Rieck said.

"It sets your sub-soil moisture up."

Mr Rieck is the third generation of his family to own and manage Rieck Farming - it's grown to become a 200 acre plot that supplies produce to some of the biggest stores in the country.

Pumpkins now growing in fields off the Cunningham Hwy will go to Woolworths before the end of the season and grain corn growing one field over will be used to make items such as corn chips.

In March, Mr Rieck and his staff will begin planting this year's carrot crop.

Rieck Farming is one of the major suppliers to Kalbar-based company Kalfresh and will yield up to 30 tonnes of carrots per acre.

Mr Rieck said as they recovered during 2013, each acre was only yielding up to 20 tonnes of carrots per acre.

"There's optimism out there (this year)," Mr Rieck said.

"We're looking really good."

The prospects for farmers from Ipswich to Toowoomba this year are vastly different to what they faced in 2011 and 2013.

While Lockyer Valley suffered the most damage in 2011, Rieck Farming and surrounding properties suffered during the downpour in late January 2013.

Mr Rieck said most of the farm was submerged and about 25% lost its top soil as floodwaters dumped it on other parts of the farm.

"It took months for some places to dry out," Mr Rieck said.

"The ground just smelt like sour . . . it was rotting."

Rieck Farming in Kalbar.
Rieck Farming in Kalbar. David Nielsen

Mr Rieck accessed federal disaster relief loans and he credits that for helping all blocks to be operational again by the end of 2013. Like other local farmers, they've now had the chance to recover and are looking to new avenues of growth such as potential international exporting.

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast El Nino conditions that result in below-average rain for Queensland have peaked.

"Historically the breakdown of strong El Nino events brings above average rainfall to parts of Australia in the first half of the year," BOM stated.

Topics:  agriculture, farmers, ipswich, produce



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