A farming family specialising in Dorper sheep who claim the breed’s ‘extreme adaptability’ is inspiring them to prevail during crippling drought conditions, are set to represent NSW at the 2020 National Landcare Awards.
Fifteen years ago, Justin and Lorroi Kirkby of Amarula Dorpers discovered Dorper sheep have the ability to cope and adapt with extreme environmental conditions.
Justin, an embryologist, and Lorroi, a veterinarian, decided to invest in the Dorper sheep breed after a visit to a Dorper farm in South Africa, where the breed was first developed in the 1930’s.
The couple believed the sheep would excel in the similar dry conditions on their Gravesend property on the North West Slopes, 50kms outside Moree.
‘By utilising the low-maintenance, easy care, fertile, moderate-sized sheep that can maintain on forage alone, we have a resilient and flexible sheep production system,’ Lorroi explained.
Focused on the regeneration and biology of the soil, healthy plants, and increasing ground cover to effectively use all the rain that falls on their land, the couple employ a combination of sustainable agriculture methods to maintain output including non-inversion deep tillage on scalded areas, establishing sub-tropical grasses & legumes in previously degraded continuously farmed soils, multi species pasture cropping and rotational grazing.
And this approach landed them the Australian Government Landcare Farming Award at the 2019 NSW Landcare Award last month.
‘As hard as the drought has been, and it’s not over yet, it has been pivotal in realising that it isn’t about being the biggest or the best or producing the most. It is about family and looking after the land,’ Lorroi added.
‘We have realised that we can be profitable without degrading our natural resources.’
The Kirkby’s will now go on to represent NSW at the National Landcare Awards in Sydney next year.
Dr Shane Norrish, CEO at Landcare Australia, commended the couple on their outstanding accomplishments.
‘It’s an honour to be able to recognise the great work being carried out by Amarula Dorpers,’ said Dr Norrish.
‘A hugely deserved winner, they have not only significantly contributed to the protection and preservation of soil health through on-ground, grassroots activities.
‘But through their tireless work, they are nurturing the voices of international environmental leadership on agricultural innovation and we’re incredibly proud to help shine a light on these inspiring, important efforts.’
Justin and Lorroi are