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Henty now home to a Delta branch

David White, Hugh Nott & Sophie Perrett

It’s long been known as the ‘Home of the Header’, in celebration of the late local wheat farmer Headlie Taylor, whose invention of the header harvester revolutionised the grain industry, its population swells to more than 60,000 for a three-day machinery field days event each year, and for more than 100 years and three generations, the Whitlock family ran a successful rural supplies business in the rural township. Now, a new generation of rural supplies specialists will take over the Whitlock family legacy stationed in Henty in southern NSW, with the opening of the Delta Agribusiness branch in the former Whitlock’s building on the Olympic Highway. When I visit the new team – Branch Manager Hugh Nott, Agronomist David White, and Animal Health Specialist Sophie Perrett – the fresh white paint is still wet on the walls, the offices are being fitted out, and the products are being stocked on the shelves in the showroom and large storage shed at the rear of the building. Hugh, who had most recently been working from Delta’s Yerong Creek branch, is excited to embark on his new role and maintain the services the community had become accustomed to under the ownership of Peter and Bruce Whitlock. “Even from when we were at the field days this year meeting people, there seemed to be excitement in the community that we are providing services here again and the building will no longer be empty on the highway. We’ve had a lot of contact with Peter and Bruce and we really want to mirror a majority of the services they had as well as providing the extra services that Delta can offer. We will even be hoping to reinstate the popular ‘chook day’ in which a supplier comes to deliver chicken orders once a month as well as provide some support to community organisations,” Hugh says.

Hugh now resides in Wagga, after having grown up on a sheep and cattle property at Mudgee. He began with Delta Ag three years ago in a casual role as he finished an agricultural business management course at CSU. He has been actively involved in Delta’s business management traineeship program developing his leadership skills, and he is now poised to lead the team at this new location. The branch will service the rural districts including Henty, Culcairn, Alma Park, Walla Walla, Cookardinia, Holbrook, and Morven, in agronomy, livestock health and nutrition advisory, chemical, fertilizer, produce, troughs, fencing, feeders, rural property sales and grain marketing. Henty locals will also recognise Agronomist David White, who grew up on a mixed farm south west of the township, also to be based from the new branch. He had been servicing Yerong Creek growers since starting with Delta in late 2014 after studying in Wagga and then working in Coonamble, Junee and in irrigation areas at Coleambally. “It’s certainly good to really get back to an area I’ve grown up in and what I am most comfortable with, but it was good to gain experience in other areas too. There’s a real positive vibe around the community with more shops opening and families investing here as well and I’m looking forward to being a part of another service being offered.” David is also particularly positive about focusing on precision agriculture and explaining its accessibility to local growers. “Delta has developed an impressive precision ag offering in the last 4 years. The platform offers services such as NDVI imaging and yield mapping and using these layers to develop zone mapping and variable rate prescriptions.

As an example of the practical application of these services, this spring we were able to use NDVI imagery to develop zones, that were then ground truthed with dry matter cuts and used to give accurate and objective yield measurements to assist with decisions around cutting crops for hay versus taking them through to grain. “We’ve really got good technical systems now and the agronomic support for farmers in the paddock as well.” After growing up in south west Queensland on a beef property, Sophie Perrett studied animal science at CSU in Wagga and worked in Young and Forbes, before she started with Delta at Yerong Creek in an animal health and merchandise sales role in August. “We really feel like there are great opportunities down here with diversification and mixed farming enterprises too. Farmers have the opportunity to put something in the ground and then have it put back through the animals, and there are many market opportunities close by and with easy access,” Sophie says. The Henty township has undergone a refurbishment with streetscape works, the opening of a bakery, a change in local ownership of the popular Doodle Cooma Arms Hotel in recent years, a new fire station opened, the community bank celebrated 20 years of operation, and there is the potential for other new businesses. So, as the paint dries on the façade of the new Delta premises, the doors open on an exciting new era and a new generation of rural service suppliers in this historic farming community.

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