Wednesday, 23 February 2011 13:33

$5000 prize for sustainable farm

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A new sustainability award for farmers will provide a $5000 prize – in cash and product – to the most outstanding example of on-farm sustainable practice during 2011.

The initiative to provide this award has been taken by Tapex, suppliers of crop protection plastics to the fodder industry, in conjunction with the Australian Fodder Industry Association.

The new award follows Tapex’s launch of its Plasback farm plastics recycling program. The Plasback program is currently available to farmers in most rural areas of Victoria and is expanding this year into parts of NSW, SA and Tasmania.

AFIA chairman Bill Gough says the award will help build a more sustainable approach to fodder conservation.

“With an annual production around eight million tonnes, the hay and silage industry is a large consumer of inputs including crop packaging, fertilizer and fuel,” he explains. “Fodder production, like all agricultural activities, will come under increasing environmental pressure to reduce these inputs.”

Hay exporters such as SP Hay in South Australia and Wilsons Stockfeeds at Tocumwal, NSW – who are currently recycling their baling twine via the Plasback program – demonstrate the value of these measures.

Wilson Stockfeeds in Tocumwal have been in the hay export business for over 20 years and disposing of up to 30 tonnes of twine a year from big square bales has always presented an issue.

“We have pressed it and sold it occasionally when there has been demand, but the price fluctuates from year to year and it’s just not worth the trouble,” Rod Wilson says.

“Our business is exporting hay, not twine. So unfortunately the twine has been going straight into the landfill skip.”

Not any more, as Wilson has become one of the first hay exporters to join the Plasback product stewardship scheme.

Plasback offers businesses, such as Wilson’s, a cost and time-effective method of dealing with a perennial problem - disposal of fodder packaging plastics.

Tapex environmental manager Ed George says all twine collected through the Plasback scheme is reprocessed in Australia through partner recyclers in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

“We give the waste plastic new life by converting it into products like Tuffdeck, our non-slip, wet area modular grate system and Tuffboard, an indestructible plywood substitute.

“At Tapex we believe our business model must be sustainable if we are to continue to be Australia’s only twine manufacturer. This means helping our customers recycle our products again after use.”

The 2011 Plasback Sustainable Farming Award will be decided by an independent panel of judges and awarded at the AFIA’s National Fodder Conference at Maroochydore in August.

For details, visit www.afia.org.au

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