Tipperary Group’s Douglas West sells to regen investment company

Beef Central, 20/03/2024

FARM management and investment group CropScale Australia has agreed to terms to acquire the 42,300ha Douglas West property, part of the Tipperary Group’s holdings south of Darwin, with plans to operate regenerative agricultural and pastoral activities which will “bring significant technology and benefits to the Northern Territory, and north Australia’s agricultural industry.”

In a statement released this afternoon, CropScale said it brought strong expertise in cost-efficient broadacre cropping, crop monitoring and land mapping technology, infrastructure development, and value-add supply chains and specialises in large-scale precision broadacre cropping within wet/dry climates.

Thew new company name, CropScale Australia, was only recently registered, but the same company was operating originally as Territory Harvest Pty Ltd, Beef Central was told.

The special-purpose vehicle that financially supports CropScale Australia is Copellian Ventures, an Australian company owned by a UK-based group.

Douglas West vendor, Melbourne barrister Allan Myers, in 2016 sold 50pc of his Tipperary aggregation in the Northern Territory’s Top End to a syndicate of Australian and Hong Kong interests for a reported figure above $49 million. Lawyer and property developer Jason Yeap, a Malaysian-born Australian citizen, who along with Mr Myers sits on the National Gallery of Australia Council, put together a syndicate of investors including himself and Hong Kong business interests. The deal involved 2700sq km of country, includes the Tipperary, Litchfield and Douglas West pastoral leases 100km southwest of Darwin.

This week’s private off-market transaction for Douglas West means the purchase price and terms remain undisclosed.

Douglas West is CropScale’s first Australian agricultural investment, However the company’s new website says it is currently securing a second property in its Australian farm asset infrastructure development portfolio, details for which are not yet available.

Project managing director Phillip Walter said the CropScale company’s approach to regenerative agriculture would see a holistic farming methodology applied that focused on renewing and enhancing soil health and nutrient levels.

“Lack of working capital and negative impacts on profitability are the most quoted barriers to farmers transitioning to a regenerative approach to soil ecology,” he said.

“CropScale has developed a broadacre farming methodology specifically for large-scale (greater than 2000ha) operations designed to increase crop margins, farm profitability, and reduce input costs. Regenerative agriculture and maximising shareholder value are not opposites.”

The company told Beef Central that Douglas West would be used for dryland cropping, mostly sorghum, and cattle production.

“Regenerative agriculture prioritises cropping strategies that add organic matter and biodiversity to soil, leading to a more resilient ecosystem,” Mr Walter said in the statement.

“This practice involves techniques including crop rotation, cover cropping, reduced tillage, and integrating livestock manures. Regenerative methodologies structured for the NT result in a self-sustaining agricultural system that not only produces more nutritious food but also sequesters carbon in the soil, and when combined with our technology platform reduces reliance on external fertiliser inputs.”

Mr Walter said CropScale planned to reinstate nature corridors on historically-cleared land to support and encourage native flora and fauna, and practice crop rotation to support healthy soils with sustainable seasonal water use through crop selection, climate-proven technologies, and agronomy science.

“CropScale is planning to capitalise on the property’s excellent soil potential over a sensible five-year period, adhering to best practice regenerative farming approaches.”

The project would also deliver considerable investment in the NT, through industry and research partnerships, shared knowledge and supporting local businesses through purchasing supplies and investment into crop processing infrastructure, he said.

“We are committed to contributing to and being part of the Top End community. Our team includes skilled local station management who know the property well and who will live on-farm, and the wider advisory team includes well-known NT agronomists and crop specialists. We have been on-station conducting surveys and research since last year. We will be investing heavily in infrastructure and technology, buying our supplies from local businesses, and are committed to an open source approach, where we can share our learnings from the data collected on what works best and why, how we overcame challenges, and provide support with adoption to climate-proven technology and practices to other growers and farmers,” Mr Walter said.

Investment from CropScale operations subsidiary ‘Territory Harvest’ into on-site wholesale and retail crop processing will achieve overall gross margin uplift for regional farmers, the company claimed.

The group’s platform and consulting division ‘CropScaleAI’ has unlocked the ability to monitor broadacre crop health and soil ecology with centimetre-level accuracy to assess individual plant health and reduce input costs using established monitoring hardware and proprietary software, including variable command uploading into John Deere machinery, the purchase statement said.

This was enabled by StarLink’s low orbit broadband network combined with GeoScience Australia’s GNSS station, accessible in the Daly River region.

“Australia’s food and fibre security depends on a blend of controlled environment production where the cost variable is energy, and ‘at-scale’ crop farming where economies of scale, climate-tested precision methodologies, end-to-end supply chain control, and sustainable approaches to soil management provide the greatest economic benefits,” Mr Walter said.

Tipperary Group owner Allan Myers said CropScale had the ability to add value to NT’s agricultural industry.

“We were impressed with CropScale’s data-driven and disciplined approach and sustainable practices,” Mr Myers said.

The Douglas West property is situated alongside the Stuart Highway, 90 minutes from Darwin, with sealed roads to the gate, mains power with its own substation, and environmentally sound sewer and water facilities.


Source: CropScale




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