Bathurst Agricultural Research and Advisory Station

Bathurst Agricultural Research and Advisory Station

Facts and figures

Professional staff

Total 8 
In Research 2
In Extension 6

Other statistics

Land Area 66ha

 

Last updated March 2006/07

The Bathurst Primary Industries Centre - incorporating the Centre of Excellence for Organic Horticulture - is situated in the south-western outskirts of the city of Bathurst in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales. The station is on undulating hill country protected from most of the damaging spring frosts by both its elevation and north-easterly aspect.

This site overlooks the Macquarie River Valley, where the rich alluvial soils have provided an excellent location for both fresh and processed vegetables and stone fruit, much of which was established by the Edgell family. 

Key research

Virus-tested propagation material

In addition to previous field experiments on the benefits of virus-tested propagating material, there is a collection of virus indicator species and virus-tested rootstock propagation material of stone fruit maintained on the Centre. This collection provides material for both the commercial industry and for research groups, as well as an assured source for future research.

Organic agriculture

In 2001 the research station was designated the Centre for Organic Farming to be the focus for organic research in NSW DPI.  Initially vegetable trials were conducted but more recently a two hectare organic has been initiated for planting in 2008. Existing trial plantings of hazelnuts and figs are undergoing conversion for organic certification.  The unit is being assisted by a ministerial advisory committee and is serviced by an organic horticulturist and the Manager for Food Industry Development.

Alternative fruit crops

Hazelnuts, figs and feijoas are continuing to be evaluated as alternative crops for the tablelands and to provide a source of varietal propagation material.

Advisory

Bathurst Primary Industries Centre has six advisory staff including a District Agronomist, a District Horticulturalist and specialists in organics and bees.

History

Bathurst Experiment Farm (as it was originally known) was established in 1895 as one of the first experimental and demonstration farms set up by the then NSW Department of Agriculture. The initial plantings and agricultural developments on the Station included most facets of agriculture, from stud dairy and pigs to vegetable and cereal breeding. The first fruit trees were planted in 1896, some of which are still growing and producing.

Since the 1940s many areas of research have been moved to other stations primarily leaving the deciduous fruit. From the 1960s most of the pome research was relocated to the Orange Agricultural Institute but the site remained as one of the most important stone fruit research units in Australia.

During the rapid expansion of stone fruit from the 1970s onwards, research into new varieties, tree training and orchard design, weed management and disease control all contributed to the success of the industry. Concurrently from 1920 through to the mid 1990s integrated pest management of pome fruit continued to be a focal point for the Australian apple industry. Although this program has ceased, the new organic initiatives at Bathurst since 2001 have continued the environmental concerns.

Climate

The Primary Industries Centre is 708m above sea level. The granite-derived soils are relatively shallow (35 to 45cm) with low natural fertility but they have provided a good environment for high-chill fresh stone fruit.

Mean annual rainfall is 624 mm, which is reasonably evenly distributed throughout the year. Summer rainfall, however, is often heavier and there can be significant dry periods. Temperatures are warm during summer (January range 13oC to 29oC) and cold in winter (July range 1oC to 12oC). Frosts can occur from April until the end of October.

The centre has continued an uninterrupted weather data collection for the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology since 1908 and is one of 20 key reference stations used by the bureau.

Contact details and location (map)

Contact or locate the Bathurst Primary Industries Centre.