The Reilly family purchased the Gurra Downs property in 1990. After extensive research, the first date palm was planted in 1998. In 2001, the family imported their first tissue culture date palms from the UK and after a lengthy nursery phase they were planted at Gurra Downs in October 2004.
The Reilly's now grow many different varieties on their properties, several of which are available for sale within Australia.
Our date palms are planted 9 metres apart which provides ample space for intercropping. During the winter months we sow cereal (usually Triticale or Wheat) and legumes which is used for geese and sheep feed and/or turning back into the ground as a green manure.
Between some rows we have intercropped with pomegranates and figs. This provides a fast growing wind break and an additional income source.
WEED AND PEST CONTROL
With our Gurra Downs property being fully certified organic since 2003, we have designed a strategy for weed control which incorporates the use of sheep, geese, turkey and guinea fowl which graze throughout the property eating weeds and in the case of poultry, insects and snails as well. This provides a sustainable and healthy alternative to otherwise using herbicides, insecticides, and tractor power.
A feral-proof fence was constructed on the perimeter of the property which excludes wild dogs and cats, and provides a safe haven for poultry. The addition of Maremma guardian dogs further provides protection to the poultry.
We have plans for our Section 298 property to convert to certified organic in the coming years, however this property is currently conventional with minimal herbicide use.