Lucerne Greens Up the Dry
Farmer of the Year Marlborough lamb and beef producer Doug Avery was a guest at the Queensland Agforce conference in September giving Australians tips on drought proofing their properties. The ABC’s Landline executive producer Pete Lewis caught up with Avery in Brisbane. “Prolonged drought is not exactly a term we normally associate with New Zealand. How did that influence the way you operated your lamb and beef business?” Lewis asked. “For a period of 19 years, we had 17 of those years where we didn’t get our average rainfall and that’s really serious for us,” Avery replied. “What actually happened with us is we ended up running half our capital stock that we normally had and it affected us environmentally, it affected us financially and of course when those two things start to fail it also affected us socially.” One day, Avery attended a seminar at which Lincoln University senior plant scientist Dr Derrick Moot was giving an address. “Our family had been growing lucerne for 80 years and that day Moot dropped the pennies through the slot that connected the lucerne plant to a grazing system, and to basically a process that changed my life,” Avery said.