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Insight: Cropping on rehabilitated mine land

IN THE THICK OF IT: Steve Erbacher, manager of Acland Pastoral Company near Oakey.
IN THE THICK OF IT: Steve Erbacher, manager of Acland Pastoral Company near Oakey. Vanessa 'Ness' Kerton

WHEN mustering some paddocks, Steve Erbacher can watch big trucks as part of the operations in the pit at New Acland Mine.

That's because the experienced mixed-enterprise farm manager oversees Acland Pastoral Company's cattle and cropping, some of which is undertaken on rehabilitated mine land right up against the functioning coal mine northwest of Oakey.

This week the Rural Weekly caught up with the Acland Pastoral Company Manager to get a snapshot into the company's cropping business. Mr Erbacher, who started his role with Acland Pastoral Company in December last year, said he has been greeted with good seasonal conditions so far.

"We have had a reasonable summer, it was a late start to the summer, with below average rain in January and February.

It was below average, but it was a lot better than a lot of other places," he said. "In March we had 230mm for the month, which is above average and a bit out of season, hence the late summer.

"That has put us in a great shape for the winter, we are carrying a good body of feed - we will have no problem getting through the winter without any additional rainfall." With a team of two station hands, the bulk of Mr Erbacher's daily task involves stock work.

"The vast majority of the operation is cattle, and we have a small amount of cropping," he said.

"The cropping is only silage and, hay production as well as forage cropping for cattle to graze on. There is no grain production at the moment."

Recently, Mr Erbacher and his team shifted 800 weaners on to an oats crop that was planted in April.

Last year about 4300 tonnes of barley and corn was harvested. The bulk of what's cropped is used for Acland's cattle, but some is sold off to local farmers.

"We grew 780 tonnes of silage corn under the pivot, which is a 25 hectare pivot, in the summer just gone," he said.

"That was planted in mid-December, and we harvested at the end of March. 180 tonnes was sold went to a local dairy farmers. That will assist him to get through his winter months. This is used for winter feed by the local farmers."

New Acland Pastoral Company uses water, which is all pumped through a 47 km constructed by the Company from Wetalla Wastewater Reclamation Facility.

"The water is primarily used as the sole source of process water for the New Acland Mine" he said.

Mr Erbacher has managed large mixed enterprise properties before, looking after Tarcoola and Marline, Anna Park and Rockdale which covered about 13,000 hectares, but he admitted he had never had a mine site as a neighbour.

"We can see the mine and see the pit, it doesn't affect our business at all."


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