The Longerenong College 1070 hectare farm is a mix of enterprises with approximately 650 hectares sown to commercial broad-acre crops each year and the remainder used for grazing by our sheep and cattle. Plantations, dams and tracks also account for a significant area of the property.
Although the farm has a commercial focus, the ingenuity of Longy’s is its ability to deliver a broad range of hands-on practical education and training to students, which means we’re far from a typical farm in the region.
The current make-up of the farm enterprises has lead us to develop livestock feedlots. These have been set up on a small scale and will continue to be developed. We aim to maintain a high percentage of cropping, and to further develop conservation farming systems of minimum or no tillage and stubble retention.
The Cropping Program
Our cropping program aims to grow a balance of cereals, pulses and oilseeds in a sustainable rotation that allows students access to these crops during the growing season.
Each year soil samples are taken in late Summer/early Autumn and analysed for nutrient status, disease and stored moisture. The information from these reports is to prepare a cropping plan for the season ahead. The main crops include barley, canola, chickpeas, faba beans, lentils and wheat.
Our cropping system aims to take advantage of precision agricultural techniques where appropriate and we use new varieties wherever possible. We work closely with a range of research and extension bodies such as BASF, Birchip Cropping Group, Department of Economic Development Jobs Transport & Resources (DEDJTR) and Eurofins to develop and maintain research sites on the farm.
The Livestock Programs
Sheep are a significant enterprise on many cropping farms and are an integral part of Longy’s training program. Over the last five years, gross margins indicate that prime lambs are consistently more profitable than wool sheep in our region, and as such our main sheep flock is now one that produces prime lambs. Importantly, Longy uses feedlotting to better finish lambs to obtain the highest prices possible.
A flock of 450 first cross (Border Leicester x Merino) ewes are run for prime lamb production. These ewes are mated to White Suffolk and or Poll Dorset rams and a small 250 ewe medium wool merino flock is run and mated to Border Leicester rams. The female progeny are kept as breeders for the prime lamb enterprise.
To ensure we stay at the forefront of all agricultural disciplines, we maintain a flock of merino ewes to enable students to learn about wool production and the various aspects of the wool industry.
A wide range of husbandry practices are conducted such as breeding plans, lambing, marking, parasite control and shearing. Design of livestock infrastructure is also undertaken by the students.
Although the beef cattle enterprise is relatively small with a herd of about 40 breeding cows, it still plays a very important part of Longy’s ‘ag training in action’ program. The herd is of mixed breeds including Hereford, Shorthorn, Charolais, Red Angus cross and purebred cows. The cows are Artificially Inseminated (AI) each year and an Angus bull is placed with the herd once AI is completed.
Cattle are not common in this region but our cattle enterprise gives students the opportunity to work with and handle large animals. Preparing steers to show at the Royal Melbourne Show is a practical activity undertaken by groups of students each year. This activity is a highlight for many students and gives the College excellent exposure to the beef industry and farming in general.
Management and Financial
At Longy, strategic planning and policymaking is undertaken by the Farm Advisory Committee, comprising industry stakeholders and college staff. Operational management is undertaken by our Farm staff, reporting to the College Head of Campus. Like most farms, the Cropping and Livestock Coordinators are able to consult with agronomists and other industry experts for advice on operational issues, which is integral to the successful operation of our 1070 hectare working farm.
Our working farm plays a big role in teaching students practical learning and nurturing hands-on skills. At the same time, Longy encourages and has commitments to other organizational and research bodies such as Bayer CropScience.
Our overall aim is to stay at the agricultural forefront, helping students to carve out dynamic futures, whilst maximizing profitability.
To achieve this we need to ensure:
- Our farm staff are expertly trained
- Appropriate occupational health and safety practices are in place for both farm and teaching activities
- Farm produce is marketed using state-of-art price risk management strategies
- Farm records are computerised using contemporary software to allow both financial analysis and paddock records
- Our Farm Plan promotes sustainability and aesthetics appropriate to an accredited institute of learning.