Planning Aids Business and Infrastructure Development




Andrew & Tiffany Bennett, and Andrew’s father Ross



Bendulla - Mundulla West


Average Rainfall:




Wool, prime lambs, beef, and broadacre cropping


Farm Area:



With seasonal and soil constraints, the recent purchase of another block, aging infrastructure, and an increase in workload, the Bennett’s identified the need to develop a plan going forward to ensure the business thrives. 


The Bennett family have been farming in the Mundulla area for over 65 years. The Bennett’s operate their enterprises across 3 blocks. The 1650 hectare home block at west Mundulla is dominated by non-wetting sands, whilst the two other Mundulla blocks are approximately 12 kilometres north with heavy black clays and sandy loams. The two blocks are neighbouring, with the latest being purchased in 2018.

Pasture types vary depending on the soil types with lucerne (on the sands) and perennial grasses (Cocksfoot and Phalaris) and annuals (clover/ryegrass) being dominant (on the heavier soils). On average 900 hectares are sown to crops each year across the three blocks. A claying program across the home block over the last 15 years has been expensive but has more than doubled the carrying capacity of the clayed area.

The sheep enterprise consists of 2800 ewes (Merino and Crossbreds), merinos are shorn in August/September and the crossbreds in March and lamb in May/June.  All ewes are pregnancy scanned with an average of 96% of Merinos (including drys) and 165% in the crossbreds. The Merino’s lamb marking is 115% and the crossbreds is 135-140%.

Lambs are finished on the Mundulla blocks, as grass seeds are an issue on the home property (with patches of scrub in most paddocks, making the control of the grasses difficult). The Bennett’s are flexible in when lambs are turned off, with the season and markets guiding their decisions. In 2020, 70% of lambs were turned straight off at weaning.

The Bennett’s also run 400 Hereford cattle (220 cows) herd.

Andrew and Ross work full time on the cropping and livestock, whilst Tiffany works half time on the livestock and farm book work. There are several challenges the Bennett’s are trying to plan around including seasonal influences (including variable rainfall, late starts, early finishes), and the autumn/winter feed gap particularly for lambing ewes), soil constraints (non-wetting sands), aging or inadequate infrastructure, and increased workload.

Current Tech Use

Whilst the Bennett’s are planning new infrastructure, they have already embraced some technologies to assist the farm business operate more efficiently.

AgriWebb Farm Management Software has proven to be useful with data recording. The inability to record individual animal data (until recently) has been a disadvantage, particularly for the cattle breeding enterprise.

The Tepari Sheep Handler has been used for weighing and drafting. It has the potential to be utilised more with the incorporation of eID in the sheep to record scanning information and individual weight gain in lambs. However currently eID tags is not seen as high on the short-term priority list.

The Bennett’s have also installed an Alpha Group Wildeye automatic weather station and soil moisture monitor, and Farmbot remote water monitoring and rainfall gauges. Andrew and Tiffany are however still learning how to best use the data for management decisions.

Business Planning

The Bennett’s have identified several key tasks to complete over the next five years for the business to progress. These include:

  • Completing the clay spreading and improvement of the sandy soils – with 400 hectares still to be clayed; bringing to a total of approximately 1500 hectares being improved. The benefit being an increase in pasture production and quality and therefore an increase in stock carrying capacity on the improved country.
  • Investment in new infrastructure including a new shearing shed, 2 sets of sheep yards, sheep handler, plus further handling equipment for the cattle enterprise.
  • Investigating the employment of an extra labour unit to assist with cropping and livestock enterprises. The Bennett’s believe it is important to find someone who has knowledge or that can embrace technology for their enterprises so they can continue to improve. This will free up more time for Andrew to investigate/implement new technology/infrastructure across the business, and for Andrew and Tiffany to have family holidays.  

Planning for New Infrastructure and Technology

Tiffany has been given the task of investigating the options for improving the infrastructure, including a new shearing shed and two sets of sheep yards. Challenges in deciding the way forward have been numerous including getting agreement between business partners on the best option going forward. Independent knowledge and support to implement and use the technology has been hard to find, together with the time to research, working out the cost benefit of the investment, and speak to or visit other producers with new infrastructure and technology.

With the need to build a new shearing shed there are mixed views on the best design i.e. a flat or raised board. Both shearing teams the Bennett’s use have advised us that flat board is best. However, this conflicts with many shearing shed builders being in favour of a raised board. Waiting times for construction of a new shearing shed are also long.

Tiffany is pushing for a bulk sheep handler to make drenching sheep easier and safer. However, Andrew is not as convinced it’s necessary.

With their cattle enterprise they are still looking at cattle crushes but leaning towards a Tepari manual operated crush with incorporated scales. They are still making a final decision on which cattle management program to go with, with Stockbook and Koolcollect being considered.

The Bennett’s feel there is a need to build confidence in all the technology, the data it provides, and learn how to interpret and use that data to make informed decisions.