Making hay while the chance shines


KUNUNURRA hay contractor Steve Jonsen will have his work cut out for him this year – because he’s suddenly got the market to himself.

The North West’s chief hay producer at Kingston Rest has called it quits and Mr Jonsen said that offered a great opportunity for his business to expand.


Kingston Rest farm manager Nick McCabe said his company had worked closely with Mr Jonsen to ensure a smooth transition.


Mr McCabe said the company would be planting 50 hectares of sandalwood this year and had to finish hay production early to get ready for next year’s planting.

“Once land has been used for pasture, it can take between one and two years to get it ready,” he said.


Mr Jonsen leases 300ha, with 100 currently producing 10,000 round bales of hay.

To meet his expected increase in demand, he will now be planting the remaining 200ha with oats in May.


“If all goes well we could potentially increase our supply by up to 20,000 large square bales,” Mr Jonsen said.

Kingston Rest, owned by Sandalwood giant Tropical Forestry Services, harvested 16,000 large square bales each year on 320ha.


Mr Jonsen has been producing hay for six years in the Ord Valley and said he understood the challenges involved in upping the scale of production to this extent.


“It will be bloody hard, but I will be giving it my best shot,” he said.

“Hopefully people understand, and, hopefully we will be able to meet their demands.”


The Kingston Rest market was split between pastoralists throughout the Kimberley and live export stockyards in Port Hedland, Broome and Wyndham.


Mr Jonsen said he was keen to secure an arrangement supplying hay to cattle yards and had already received a few enquiries from surrounding stations.

“We also offer free transport to stations within a 600-700km radius of Kununurra,” he said.


Mr McCabe added pastoralists were not disgruntled by the early stop to production of hay by Kingston Rest

“We held a fire forum at Kingston Rest recently, which was attended by several pastoralists,” he said. “Most said they were pleased with the relationship they had developed with TFS and the notice given.”


Kingston Rest was an operating hay and cattle farm, 66km south of Kununurra before it was purchased by TFS for $18.05 million last year.

It comprises 2400ha of freehold land, 1200 of pastoral leasehold and a 3200ha dam with a current capacity of 65 gigalitres.


Mr McCabe said the new 320ha of sandalwood would be part of a total of 600ha to be planted next year.


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