Australian agriculture is a success story that often goes untold – every year more than 85,000 farming businesses actively care for close to 50 per cent of Australia’s land mass, through meat, food, fibre or crop production.

Tuesday, November 21 is National Agriculture Day, and to celebrate the remarkable contribution of Australian agriculture,  NQ Dry Tropics has put the spotlight on one of the region’s small beef production businesses that it works with.

Ross and Tracy Tapiolas, along with sons Damien, Justin and Liam, have operated Six Mile Creek at Home Hill since 2015.  Their original 10 year plan to become full-time beef producers has been fast tracked to four after proactively sourcing and embracing agriculture extension services to help them on their way to achieve their long-term goal to develop a sustainable, profitable business using industry best practice.

Less than 18 months from the day they purchased Six Mile Creek, the Tapiolas family joined a select group of Grazing BMP accredited producers when they successfully passed their audit.  They completed the Grazing BMP assessment through NQ Dry Tropics, and along the way attended many workshops and field days.

These include low stress stockhandling, breeder management and pregnancy testing, working dog school, soil health and grader techniques, all funded by NQ Dry Tropics through Federal and State Government funding.  They have also completed Grazing for Profit and ProfitProbe with RCS, and MLA’s Business EDGE and Breeding EDGE with Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).

“We realised we needed to grab a hold of any and every bit of support out there to make a go of this business.

We care deeply for our stock and even more for our land, but there was no point loving them if it was only going to send us broke,” Mr Tapiolas said.

“The extension services offered to us by NQ Dry Tropics has been invaluable in teaching us how to improve our productivity, and show us how to translate our new knowledge into practice change that relates directly to our business,” he said.

Tracy Tapiolas said the family keeps strict records in line with Grazing BMP accreditation including stock treatment records, WHS register, grazing charts and forage budgets.  A infrastructure development program has been put in place,  and the family is investing in other aspects of land management including wild dog trapping, weed control and erosion mitigation structures.

“When we purchased the property it was heavily infested with weeds including chinee apple and rubber vine,” Mrs Tapiolas said.

“Damien has worked tirelessly on a small bulldozer to clear weeds off the black soil flats and around watering points and infrastructure. We follow this up with chemical treatment.

“We have also constructed a network of whoa boys and flat bottomed drains on some of the steeper topography to reduce sediment loss from our roads.  

Ït’s important to us to show consumers that we’re good custodians of our land and are looking after the welfare of our animals because we want this business to operate sustainably and profitably for generations to come.

“We own the local pet shop and have a history with horses. We thought owning the block would be pretty easy because it’s just shy of 5,500 acres but we quickly learnt there’s so much more to this industry and we’re fully committed to making Six Mile the place of our dreams,” she said.

NQ Dry Tropics Grazing Senior Field Officer Linda Anderson said graziers were working hard to build resilience into their properties.

“Working with the Tapiolas family is incredibly inspiring.  They are genuine and passionate advocates for growing cattle ethically, treating their land with respect, and valuing all ecological diversity,”Ms Anderson said.

Main photo:  Ross and Tracy Tapiolas.