At a glance
Who: Gerard & Sue Deery
What: Wattle Park is a 750 hectare grazing property which runs approximately 4000 Merino sheep.
Where: The farm is located at Bengworden in East Gippsland, Victoria.
About your property and business
I am the fourth generation of my family to live and farm on Wattle Park. With my wife, Sue, I operate a dryland grazing business running a self-replacing Merino flock. It is a low input operation relying on mainly native pastures in a 600mm rainfall area.
I have noticed changing weather patterns since I first began working on the property in 1970. Over those 50 years, annual rainfall has declined by 15 – 20% (100 – 125 mm), while temperatures have increased by 1 – 1.2 degrees centigrade (BOM data). Gippsland is getting drier and hotter.
Building more resilience into our grazing management, with longer rest periods to all grasses so they can fully recover between grazings, retaining more ground cover to reduce run off and maximize rainfall effectiveness, and matching stocking rates to carrying capacity. Using theses strategies, the property was able to come through the recent (2018-2019) drought in better condition than previous drought events.
Water is pumped from three of the five stock water bores using wind and solar power. Cost and environmental benefits compared to conventional energy sources.