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Essential oils on Australian farms

Essential oils on Australian farms

If you’ve been an earthYARDian for a while, you would know that we’re passionate about championing Australian grown. Not only because we genuinely believe that Australian soil grows great produce, but we also think essential oils grown locally can support farmers and our industry. In this post, we share a few reasons why.

There is opportunity all over Australia

There are many different in-demand oils that can be grown in various regions. This means that there is an opportunity for farmers across the country to grow essential oil-bearing plants.

Natives are a good starting point, especially when you consider the positive impact they can have on local ecosystems. Some of these oils include Lemon Scented Gum, Rosalina, Tea Tree and Kunzea.

The biggest drawcards for farmers willing to put in some time are Rosemary, Lavender, Geranium and even herb oil varieties such as Sage, Oregano and Parsley. These oils are relatively easy to grow (especially in volume), but they’re also generously rewarding per kilo.

Essential oil crops can be dual-purpose on a farm

Essential oil crops are a viable income stream for farmers that can be used to diversify business and minimise risk. Rather than relying on a single crop, essential oil plantations can provide an additional source of income. The plants themselves can also act as shelter belts, help with erosion management, flood plain breaks and salinity management. They can also be co-planted with edible or flower crops and spent bio-mass can be used as a great topsoil cover to protect against invasive species, dry heat and frost.

Local produce makes the entire industry more resilient to logistical challenges

The logistical challenges brought on by the pandemic have been eye-opening. What used to take 2-3 weeks from farm to our warehouse, especially with imported oils, is now taking 2-3 months – sometimes longer. This is because of bottlenecks at ports, reduced passenger planes coming into Australia and the over-crowded postal network here on dry land.

Another challenge for producers here and abroad is getting harvesters out into the field. This has been almost impossible as a lot of our citizen workers were locked in their home towns and foreign workers who help with seasonal harvests are not available. This has resulted in a global shortage in production simply because oils could not be harvested on time.

Unfortunately, this is something that we’re going to feel the impacts of for quite some time. Locally produced oils aren’t immune from these impacts, but there are inherently fewer potential logistic hurdles when products are grown closer to home.

Costs can be minimised across the board

More Aussie produced means a low cost to produce. A drop in production costs would be passed onto wholesale buyers and in turn, should lead to a drop in retail cost. A bustling industry driven by affordability can lead to much-needed support. The more we can make this industry a shining star in the Agribusiness mix, the closer we are to getting the acknowledgement from the government that we need to support trade, development and innovation.
Government support is important, especially for farmers that are just starting out. In a lot of cases, revenue will only be generated every 18 months to start and that’s after the new crop is at harvestable age which can take between 3-5 years.

It takes devotion, patience and a fair amount of investment which is why we need the support of government agencies to help farmers along the way. The good news is, once you’re on your way, it’s easy and rewarding to keep it going.

Want to know more?

The first stop should always be Native Oils Australia (NOA). They are a wealth of resources, research, development and promotional services for interested industry folk. NOA also seeks new plantations and old plantations that need a boost to help get them into commercial production including help with equipment.

The second step would be to sign up to EOPAA (Essential Oil Producers Association of Australia) newsletters for value info, insights and trends. Then, ask a farmer! Most farmers are always more than happy to share their knowledge.

Do you know someone who has a farm? Do they have trees that could be turned into essential oil crops? Yes? Tell them to get in touch with earthYARD! No? Tell them to get in touch with earthYARD! We can help point them in the right direction regardless of their starting point.

When it comes to home-grown essential oils, the sentiment rings true: the more the merrier.

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