On Location - Delta Agribusiness Dubbo
Article I Lucy Moore Photography I Lisa Weber Photography
Strong customer service values have always been the cornerstone of operations, as well as remaining current and progressive in services offered at the Delta Agribusiness Dubbo branch.
The branch has just recently received a complete refurbishment of the office and showroom areas, making it much more convenient and serviceable for clients.
Branch Manager Ron Gardner has been with the company at Dubbo since day one, when it merged from its predecessor Furney’s CRT into the Delta network in 2013. Ron says Furney’s CRT was a family owned and operated business and those traditions and values were carried through when the changeover occurred.
“Furney’s CRT was in operation for 12 years prior to the merge and we were delighted to maintain the same staff and clientele to take them with us through that transition,” he recalls.
“We continue to be one of the leading suppliers of goods and services in this area among strong competition,” he says.
“We ensure we have stock on hand at all times and offer the best advice and products to add value to our clients.”
The Dubbo region is diverse in its agricultural pursuits, featuring livestock production in cattle and sheep as well as irrigated cropping through the summer season and broadacre winter cropping.
It’s a diverse landscape that agronomy consultant David Strahorn is familiar with as he consistently travels a 100km radius surrounding Dubbo to advise his farming clients in all things agronomy. David has now notched up 20 years with Furney’s/Delta Ag at Dubbo and he says he’s certainly seen the highs and lows of Australian agriculture. “My job always keeps me on my toes as every season is unique.
“Agriculture has become more technical over the past 20 years. From rotating chemistries combating weed resistance, to managing new pests and diseases, to implementing precision agriculture – things have definitely changed from when I first started my career.
“When I first started a lot of farmers were using conventional farming methods, but there is certainly not a lot of that now with minimum till and direct drilling.”
David grew up on a mixed farming property about 60km south of Dubbo at Tomingley, and his parents still sow winter crops and run Merino sheep and fat lambs there.
“I have been advising some farmers every year since I started 20 years ago. I really like providing growers with guidance and it is satisfying getting to the end of a good season and knowing you’ve played a part in that success.”
David says he has enjoyed working with an independent company since completing his Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) degree at Charles Sturt University in Wagga and with a strong network of agronomists, there is always support in the role and the opportunity to connect with others in the group to gain an understanding of conditions and any potential seasonal challenges.
Grain broker Caitlin Bowman moved to Dubbo 18 months ago from the Riverina when the company saw an opportunity for her role in the region. Caitlin acts as an intermediary on behalf of growers and buyers sourcing the best price for farmers and best fits for purchasers.
She works closely with agronomists to look at forward selling opportunities for growers while also working on the best overall grain marketing strategy.
“I mostly deal with cereals and oil seeds, particularly canola with so much added value there,” she says.
Peter Thornton (merchadise manager) who has been with the branch for 17 years, has now extended his role into livestock consultancy.
“I grew up around livestock and have always had a passion for making producers more efficient.
Peter says the consultancy service is based around the livestock management calendar so plans could be made on-farm.
“We’d like to see graziers planning ahead in areas such as worm resistance and nutrition throughout seasons, for example pre-planning a supplementation regime for calving heifers,” Peter explains.
“I know what’s going on on-farm so we can bring day-to-day practices and new information together with myself as the sounding board.”
“I’ve always taken a proactive approach. In terms of results I’ve been successful in helping producers decrease worm counts and we’re seeing more lambs on the ground through better nutrition, but the goal is to formalise this process and start benchmarking to measure success.
“It’s all about sustainability going forward and safeguarding these industries into the future.”
Ron says these highly skilled staff, also with agronomist Hayley Wilson and Dan Sheridan who works in sales/merchandise made his involvement with Delta all the more enjoyable, with access to aspectrum of different clients and industries.
“There are some very fertile soils along the Macquarie River where farmers are cropping under centre pivot irrigation and capably harvest two crops annually,” he says.
“Cereals including wheat and barley are definitely our biggest drivers through the winter cropping program but we’re also seeing plenty of rotations with canola and chickpeas.
“We see a lot of mixed farming and grazing in the Dubbo area where producers include cattle and sheep in their operation - lotfed lambs in particular are seeing continued growth and optimism.”
Unpredictable seasonal conditions have increased the need for preparedness and forward planning. Ron says producers have suffered through three years of drought prior to 2020, yet seasonal improvements since then had proved those long held client relationships could stand up through tough times.
He says pasture improvement for livestock operators was now very important to businesses where productivity and efficiency is key.
“Our clients are going into improved pasture mixes of lucerne, fescue and phalaris as well as adding legumes such as subterranean clover and biserula,” he says.
“This is often seen alongside fodder cropping for increased productivity when seasons are strong.”
There has always been a history of mixed farming operations in the area with the most notable change being a slight shift towards meat sheep as opposed to Merinos on account of ease of operation.
“There are still plenty of Merinos in western New South Wales but fluctuations in wool prices and difficulty attracting shearing teams has been challenging,” Ron says.
“The meat sheep game is strong and fat lamb prices have historically been good for 15 years now.”
Looking to the future, Ron is confident the Dubbo branch will continue to expand into the future.
“I can see our team growing to meet demand. Farming practices are changing with the likes of precision ag taking off and we need to remain on the front foot to go with these changes,” Ron says.
“We may outgrow our current location eventually with the need to employ specialist staff, but we will certainly uphold the values we’ve always stood by to best serve our customers.”