Macadamias taking off in the Clarence Valley
IF ANYONE needs any more evidence of the strength of the macadamia industry in the Clarence Valley, they only need to visit Chatsworth and watch the new planting machine in action.
It's the first time the machine, which was designed and built by Palmers Island engineer Tony Martin, has been in operation in NSW, and is capable of planting up to 3000 trees a day.
Macadamia farmer Bruce Green, who helped establish the new farm at Chatsworth, said the planter was just one sign of how well the macadamia industry was travelling.
"We've planted 6000 trees there before Christmas, and there'll be another 17,000 planted before the end of 2018," he said.
"The planter is an upgraded version of the one used in Bundaberg, and it's a great machine. It means no more manual planting, and it's all GPS precise so you know exactly where you're planting."
Mr Green was one of the first in the Clarence Valley to embrace macadamias when he decided to convert his 20ha Palmers Channel cane farm to macadamias about ten years ago.
Now he uses his experience to help other farmers make the transition, and in the past 12 months has helped seven macadamia farms get up and running.
"I do farm management and get things set up and organised, and then the owners get involved from there," he said.
"I haven't been surprised by how things have taken off. When we started we were the only ones, then I was out working at a cane farm at Palmers Island and I was asked to help a friend start one up and it went from there.
"People were watching over the fence at what I was doing and were waiting to see how it would work. We went through floods and bad weather and got away with it, and learned a lot as we went along, and I think that's helped things go."
Since first making the transition, Mr Green said the macadamia industry has gained momentum, especially in the Lower Clarence.
"I think the growth has been down to the ease of being able to grow macadamias on low flat country, you don't have to be up in the hills," he said.
"The good thing is that it also generates employment, and there's plenty of young people who are keen to work which is great."