RISK AND REWARD: Hurdle Gully Lucerne's Scott Dowling at his Monto property.
RISK AND REWARD: Hurdle Gully Lucerne's Scott Dowling at his Monto property. Alex Treacy

Sorghum risk pays off for Scooter

A RISKY decision by a Monto lucerne grower has paid off in spades, as he reaps the financial benefit of a "double dividend”.

Hurdle Gully Lucerne's Scott Dowling, a proud member of Monto Growers' Group said the 200 acres of sorghum he planted in the summer was not especially high yielding, as the birds had their way with the grain.

However, those birds also provided him an opportunity he was able to capitalise on.

Mr Dowling, acting on a hunch hay prices would remain high due to the dire drought conditions in New South Wales, forewent his chance of a winter crop on that 200 acres by allowing the sorghum grain the birds dropped to grow again, which he then harvested for hay.

It was "two bites of the cherry in one season,” Mr Dowling said.

"That certainly helped the coffers.”

Mr Dowling said the New South Wales market was keeping him "very busy”.

Previously, it was western Queensland, but they have had a slightly better season, he said.

Hurdle Gully Lucerne's Scott Dowling at his Monto property.
Hurdle Gully Lucerne's Scott Dowling at his Monto property. Alex Treacy

Mr Dowling said there had never been a better time to be a Monto grower thanks to Cania Dam, constructed in 1982, which currently sits at 68.9 per cent capacity.

He said people thought Cania Dam was a mistake, as for much of its first 30 years of existence it remained barren, but then in 2011, it "filled overnight”, and Monto has been laughing ever since.

"Having that security of water is really important because customers know you're going to be able to supply them,” Mr Dowling said.

However, Mr Dowling said North Burnett agriculture was being held back by the conditions of its roads.

Road trains, he said, can currently only travel as far as Biloela, meaning his northern competitors are favoured first because more of their product can be transported at once, reducing costs.

Mr Dowling said the benefits of infrastructure which could accommodate road trains would also be felt by businesses such as the local piggeries, which need to truck grain in.


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