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Country Hour Radio 4QS Sally Nichols Interviews May 16 2000

Allan Major – Olives

Interviewer:
One olive grove is exceeding industry expectations on tree maturity and fruit quality. The secret seems to be the use of a mineral fertiliser. Allan and Anne Major run superfine wool sheep on their property Rosewood Downs, but 4 1/2 years ago they diversified into olives and planted over 2000 trees. Mr Major said he planted the trees in very poor, white, sandy country and was surprised they even grew. They are currently picking at the moment and Mr Major says the grades and fruit loads are outstanding.

Allan Major:
They are performing very well, the 4 1/2 year old trees are bearing up to 25 kg.

Interviewer:
When did your trees actually start bearing fruit?

Allan Major:
They start out in the second year about 2 1/2 years old.

Interviewer:
How much fruit were you getting off at 2 1/2 years of age?

Allan Major:
Well, they vary a lot, you might get one tree bearing 10 kg and the next one nothing but they average out probably around 5 kg.

Interviewer:
Now, is the amount of fruit you are getting off these trees for their age a little bit unusual?

Allan:
Yes, seems to be really, they reckon anything under 4 or 5 years is a bonus. You won’t get a lot of fruit.

Interviewer:
What is the actual quality of the fruit that you are getting off the trees?

Allan:
Very good, we pressed fruit the other day at Gwyder Olives in Inverell and it went 27.2% oil content.

Interviewer:
Any reason why you think your olive grove is performing so well?

Allan:
We have been using Earthlife Mineral Fertiliser right from the start when they were planted, we have been using it on our cultivations for a couple of years before we went into olive groves and we have seen a definite benefit there and when we planted the olive grove we used it then instead of any chemical fertilisers.

Interviewer:
So have you used anything else on the trees apart from this Earthlife fertiliser?

Allan:
No, not really, just a bit of feedlot manure when they were planted.

Interviewer:
So what you are saying is the performance of your olive grove is all due to the fertiliser that you have used?

Allan:
I would think so, yeah.

Interviewer:
So what is this fertiliser?

Allan:
Well it is a mineral blend made up, we do soil samples and leaf analysis tests and then they do up a blend to suit what you want for your trees.

Interviewer:
So how often are you actually putting this fertiliser on and what sort of expenditure is there for the fertiliser?

Allan Major:
We do a leaf analysis early October in the spring and apply the product at the end of October when we know what the trees require, it would only cost $2-3 dollars per tree to fertilise for the year.

Interviewer:
So the money you are making out of these trees, is that covering the cost of the fertiliser?

Allan Major:
Oh yeah, well and truly, yeah.

Interviewer:
Allan Major from Rosewood Downs in Inglewood and it seems this magic fertiliser has wider applications than just olive trees. What Mr Major and Myself have been referring to as fertiliser is what the manufacturing company Earthlife refers to as Natural Plant Food. Earthlife managing director, Ian Purnell says the conditioner balances the soil allowing better absorption of moisture and nutrients by the plant. Since Earthlife was first established in Toowoomba 4 years ago Mr Purnell says extensive trials of the product have been undertaken.

Ian:
Initially we concentrated on Sugar Cane in the Bundaberg region and we’ve had outstanding successes over sandy soils, through red to heavy black soils. At the same time on the Darling Downs we’ve done sorghum crops, cotton, wheat and barley, you know we have been across a wide range of crops Sally.

Interviewer:
So, what actual results do the farmers find as far as yield and quality?

Ian:
In sugar cane we have had up to 17% increases with our system, that was just in yield but also a corresponding 5% increase in CCS levels, now that is the sugar content of sugar cane and that is quite a significant increase. In sorghum, in the dry land situation we had an outstanding demonstration, it was not actually a trial but it was a farmer who put 4th year sorghum on sorghum against the long fallow in a severe heat wave condition. The fourth year sorghum on sorghum yielded as much as the long fallow and went on to demonstrate that we had an 11% increase in daily weight gain in a piggery once that grain was fed through his piggery. Which is quite and outstanding achievement.

Interviewer:
Earthlife managing director Ian Purnell talking about the benefits of using Earthlife’s Natural Plant Food.