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Current comment on rural matters of the moment

THE PASSING

PARADE

by MARTINGALE

DURING his recent tour of the Esperance

district, the Honorary Minister for Agri- culture (Mr. Wood) waxed eulogistic concerning the land settlement possibilities of the south coastal plain. He is reported to have said that no undeveloped land in Western Australia has greater agricultural possibilities—and he may be right. Other people have expressed similar views over the past 20 years, but the usefulness or otherwise of this land should long ago have been placed beyond doubt by a series of con- trolled experiments carried out by the Depart- ment of Agriculture.

Certainly our coastal plain has many factors which would make for successful land set- tlement. It is cheap to buy, cheap to clear, has an ample and well-distributed rainfall, and good water is available at shallow depth.

Admittedly, the soil is poor, compared with that of many of our settled areas, but a few iso- lated attempts at pasture estab- lishment have given encourag- ing results. Where pastures can be established, fertility will soon follow, and in these days our knowledge of the part played by trace elements has been of great value in utilising   formerly recalcitrant soils.

lt has been obvious for years that the next phase of agricul- tural expansion must take place in our light lands or in the heavily-timbered areas of the Great Southern and South- west. Even with bulldozers to eliminate much of the gruel-

ling toil, the clearing of forest country for pasture is a costly business which loads the pad- docks with a heavy capital cost. Furthermore, the world timber situation is such that the destruction of even second- class forest is a crime against posterity.

Giving evidence before the Commonwealth Grants Com- mission last week, the State Conservator of Forests (Mr. T. N. Stoate) said that, even at the present rate of cutting, our virgin forest would all be cut over in 30 years.

Although we appear to have almost unlimited quantities of standing timber in this State, we are self-supporting as far as our requirements are con- cerned only because of our meagre population. New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria all produce more timber but must depend largely on imports to meet their needs. If this State ever carries out its avowed policy of increasing population we must conserve our timber and cease to make agricultural development syn- onymous with tree butchery.

The development of forest land should follow a carefully planned milling programme so that no usable timber is wasted.

Meanwhile we should push   ahead with experimental work   on the light lands.    

Air-Freighted Beef

IT was announced recently

that the State Government had decided to make a five-year free-of-interest loan of £10,000 to a company known as Air Beef Pty. Ltd., which proposes to erect abattoirs and a chilling plant at Glenroy Station, 190 miles south of Wyndham, from which it will fly carcass beef to the Wyndham Meatworks.

It is proposed to treat about 4,000 beasts in the first season and freight the beef by means of a thrice-daily air lift, a method of beef transport which, the Premier stated, was pre- viously confined to Bolivia. Ex- perimental shipments of air- borne station-killed beef have

[Caption: Grand Champion and Champion strongwool ewe shown by

Mr. F. Foster at the Lake Grace show.]

been made recently from Mt. House Station to Perth, and it will be interesting to see how the economics of the scheme pan out in this large-scale test. Unless some alternative to the present system of droving cattle to Wyndham is evolved, the meatworks there must eventu- ally close down. Cattle for the Wyndham slaughter floor have   to walk as far as 400 miles, the average droving distance for the season's kill being about 180 miles. Owing to the impossi- bility of droving during the "wet," most of these long treks are made at a time when high temperatures have desiccated the herbage on the blacksoil plains and robbed it of its nutrients.

As a result, only about 10 per cent of the season's kill can be classed as first or "chiller" grade. About 20 to 30 per cent may make the second grade, while the balance goes out at "boneless beef" or canning grade. At present, importers cannot be too "choosey," but as their needs become less acute the accent will be on quality, and a successful air-freighting project would give carcasses an advance in grade and probably save a wastage of 80 to 100 lb. weight.

Water by Rail

TWENTY-SEVEN special

trains a week are hurrying water to parched country areas in this State and by mid November this number is ex- pected to increase to 39. At present, the trains are merely carrying water for railway use but shortly the general town- ship needs in drought centres will have to be considered.

In addition to the special trains, a railway spokesman said that many water tanks were being attached to a large number of ordinary trains. No occasion could be remembered when the position was so acute at this early stage of the sum- mer. Some relief had been ex- perienced at Duggan and Wagin, but water-carting to

those two centres was expected to be resumed shortly when six special trains a week would be carting water to Wagin alone. About November 15 six specials would begin carrying water from Kweda to Corrigin.

The weekly water haulage to Bowelling from Collie and Hillman totals 34,000 gallons; to Katanning from Lake Matilda, Tambellup and Cran- brook, 215,000 gallons on seven special trains; to Narro- gin from Yornaning, 330,000 gallons on six specials; to Brookton from Yornaning, 100,000 gallons; to Buntine, Caron and Perenjori, 200,000 gallons from Northam on six specials; to Koolanooka and Canna from Mullewa, 120,000

[Caption: Grand Champion and Champion finewool ram at the Lake

Grace show. Entered by Mr. S. J. Bishop.]

gallons; to Mullewa (for consumption and distribution) from Yalgoo, 200,000 gallons on six specials; to Bruce Rock from Merredin, 75,000 gallons on two specials; and to Man- manning from Amery, 16,500 gallons.

Shearing Rates Up

As a result of the rise in the

cost-of-living index figures, increased rates will apply to all

shearing work performed after

midnight on Sunday, November 21, 1948.

The main features of the new rates are an increase in the rates for machine-shearing flock sheep to 57/3 a hundred, with corresponding increases in other sections. That figure is when rations are not found. If rations are found a deduction of 40/- a week may be made.

Crutching rates are up 3d. a hundred, from 11/2 to 11/5 and from 14/8 to 15/ a hun- dred for full crutching as laid down in the award.

Rates for shed-hands are now £8/2/4 and £10/2/4 for adults according to whether rations are found or not: £5/2/ and £7/2/ for boys (18 to 21 years), and £4/9/6 and £6/9/6 for boys under 18.

Meatmeal Ration

r£HE Acting Under Secretary

for ' Agriculture (Mr. A. McKenzie Clark) states that the meatmeal ration for November will remain un- changed at 60 per cent of the basal quota.

W.A. Misses Again

Dr. W. E. PETERSEN of

Minnesota University, U.S.A., a leading authority on dairy cattle and of world re- nown for his film "The Science of Milk Production," has ac- cepted an invitation by the Australian Dairy Produce Board to visit Australia.

According to the Australian Dairy Review, which published the information, Dr. Petersen, who will arrive in December, Will only be able to pay a brief visit to Australia and as a con- sequence will be compelled to confine his tour to Victoria, New South Wales and Queens- land.

Possibly the people on the other side are still under the impression that Western Aus- tralia can only be reached by

Cobb and Co.'s coach or after

a lengthy camel journey. Why doesn't somebody show them our East-West air timetable?

Wool on Wheels

COMPARATIVELY few

people realise the value to the Australian wool industry of the automobile industry as a consumer of woollen products. The Australia-wide operations of General Motors-Holdens Ltd. have been responsible this year for purchase by the com- pany of £150,000 worth of Australian woollen products. A proportion of each of the com- pany's cars—Buick, Oldsmo- bile, Pontiac, Chevrolet and Vauxhall—uses cloth uphol- stery.

Large as this figure is for con- sumption of wool by a single manufacturer, General Motors- Holdens states, the probability is that it will rise considerably in the future. For one reason, they point out, the present con- trolled price of leather—-6½d. a lb.—is obviously an artificial limit when world parity is 21d. a lb. and considerable readjust- ment in price seems inevitable with consequent replacement of leathers by woollen cloths in many models. Again, with the Holden car in full production next year, a considerable rise in G.M.H. purchase of woollen products, probably to about £350,000, is foreseen.

Our Cot Fund

THERE are only a few more

days left to complete our total of £50 with which to re- endow the Mutual Help Cot at the Lady Lawley Cottage- by-the-Sea, and we are still be- hind schedule. One staunch supporter brought in his second donation yesterday to help along the good work, and I hope that this little reminder will be sufficient to cause the fund to be oversubscribed,

In these days, most of us could spare a few shillings without experiencing any great hardship, and a small contri- bution from even a meagre per- centage of our readers would support several cots. Mean- while here are the latest figures:

£ s. d.

Previously acknowledged £40 12s 11d

L. W. Kahl

(Kununoppin) ... 2s 6d No Account Female . 2s 0 Dad (Dumbleyung) . . 4s 0

£41 1s 5d

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