“Oxenthorpe”, northwest of Molong, had 10 owners in 100 years because, “no-one could make it work”.  But thanks to compost owner Stephen Leisk, is in the middle of an eight year composting program that is literally transforming his land from quite marginal country, to a viable farm.  Stephen laughs as he describes the 162-hectare holding about 650 metres above sea level on east-facing slopes comprised of granite sandy loam hot with aluminium as “the plot no-one wanted”.

He bought “Oxenthorpe” 14 years ago and initially couldn’t make it work either.  “We tried cattle and it was a disaster, we were running 27 cows, we sacked them and bought ewes. “With sheep it wasn’t much better, but we managed 12 days’ grazing a year per hectare and were running 100 sheep.” Over 10 years he watched in pain as thousands of dollars of synthetic fertiliser dissipated into what is essentially sand atop an inhospitable subsoil.

Success with a new Approach

Using a spreader, 16ha of Mr Leisk’s property where treated with a “black lime compost” blend, one part lime to four parts compost.  “I don’t like seeing plumes of material I’ve paid for blowing away in the wind,” Blending the compost with lime eliminates the usual plumes that follow a spreader, said Mr Leisk.  “Mixing the lime and compost, the compost seems to act like a magnet, not only does it stop the lime blowing around, but it stabilises it and extends its life,”.  “The compost also holds moisture and adds carbon to the soil, and carbon is the driver of everything.”

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