Three decades of regen ag, a century of ownership in easy New England country

Marian Macdonald
By Marian Macdonald
March 23 2022 - 3:00am

His family has farmed the 789-hectare Miramoona South for a century and Kim Barnet says the thing that really sets the property apart from much of New England is its gentleness.

"It's very easy country," he said.

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"It's slightly undulating, which is unusual for the New England, and the timber is quite a feature."

Apart from the remnant stands of redgum, box, stringybark, peppermint and white gums, Mr Barnet and his wife Rhonda have planted thousands of trees across Miramoona since the 1980s, too many to count.

The timber makes for a very scenic landscape but also offers precious shade and shelter from the cold south-easterlies, a boon for lamb survival rates and easy management.

It's all part of a regenerative agriculture approach that put the Barnets well ahead of their time.

They've been rotationally grazing their Merinos and cattle since 1998, having attended Stan Parsons and Allan Savory workshops.

It's paid off with a good cover of white clover, sub clovers, phalaris, cocksfoot and fescue, as well as many good native species.

There's no trouble getting those perennials to persist in the well fertilised, organic-rich loamy soils, which boast phosphorous levels of 36-82 milligrams a kilogram across Miramoona South.

In fact, Mr Barnet's grandfather, A.S. Nivison pioneered aerial spreading of superphosphate and pasture seed in the 1950s, and Miramoona was one of the first properties to benefit.

Marrying up with that fertility is water. Mr Barnet said the long-term annual average rainfall was 750 millimetres and water security is bolstered by dams and three bores supplying a reticulated water system connected by a 2-inch water main.

"We never had a problem with water during the drought," he said.

The Barnets normally stock both cattle and fine wool Merinos, including a stud established in 1972.

Based on the farm records over a 10 year period from 2008 to 2018 the winter carrying capacity of this country is estimated at 8500 dry sheep equivalents in a normal season.

There's all the infrastructure to match, with an eight-stand shearing shed (five equipped) and a comprehensive set of 2500-head sheep yards with covered working area adjacent to the shed.

This facility and the cattle yards have all weather B-double access and loading.

The shearers' quarters are well maintained and regularly used by contracting teams when they are in the district.

A second set of steel sheep yards ideal for managing large mobs is centrally located on the laneway, and there's a substantial set of steel cattle yards with covered race, vet crush and working area.

Getting stock to market is easy, too. Just 16 kilometres north of Walcha on Thunderbolts Way, Miramoona South is 50km south of Armidale and 105 km from Tamworth Regional Selling Complex.

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There are two three-bedroom cottages on the property, suitable as a homestead and manager's residence.

Miramoona South will be auctioned on April 28. Nutrien Boulton's agent Bruce Rutherford said price guidance was difficult to offer.

"Recent sales in New England have been in the $4000-$6000 an acre range but we don't want to be the ones setting a price on it, which is why it's going to auction," he said.

Contact Mr Rutherford on 0428 660 328.

Marian Macdonald

Marian Macdonald

National rural property writer

Writing for farmers in the Stock & Land, The Land, Queensland Country Life, Stock Journal and FarmWeekly, farming in Gippsland.

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