Dusty paddocks may surround the southern Mallee town of Pinnaroo but this town is filled with bountiful energy for adapting and growing its agricultural future.
Fighting off years of drought, the region is now among the largest potato growing regions in Australia as locals optimise a groundwater supply and farmers continue to diversify from traditional grain, cattle and sheep production.
Video: Jordan Agutter.
“Pinnaroo has embraced science, technology and innovation,” local Nutrien Ag Solutions joint owner Andrea Sparnon says.
“My family came for corporate jobs and chose to stay, it’s our town of choice, it’s an honest, grassroots town.”
Among the innovations is a new deep ripping machine to improve soil conditions and productivity created by 100-year-old engineering firm Hanton and Sharrad.
One family farming operation is building a niche lentil flour business, another a growing turf business, while Parilla Premium Potatoes has committed $35 million to build a new packing facility that is expected to generate 40 local jobs.
They are a resilient bunch, fighting for a new childcare centre and gym to support locals, and working hard to support their townsfolk’s mental health after years dealing with drought and then the COVID-19 pandemic.
When restrictions slammed shut the border to Victoria last year, it led to neighbours in nearby Murrayville being banned from visiting local doctors, the hospital, school, shops, friends and family, causing distress and anxiety.
“We are a can-do community [and] when something is not quite right some communities say ‘what now?’, we say, ‘let’s look at Plan B and make it work’,” agronomist Mick Sparnon says.
The Agricultural Town of the Year Award, proudly presented by the Government of South Australia and Solstice Media, highlights the vital role that agriculture plays in the regional landscape – being the backbone of most regional communities.
This year the program received 70 town nominations and over 5,000 votes to help determine the Top 5 finalists for the 2020 Agricultural Town of the Year Award to be revealed on Friday, 26 February.