other writings

The Carnivore’s Dilemma

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012


Possum skin cloaks

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Capes of Good Hope
The Art of creating cloaks made of possum skins was almost lost. Now these ancient skills are being revived, using modern tools.


Chicken meat

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Chicken Juggernaut. Australian Farm Journal. 4 part series. 2012
While 99% of Australia's livestock farmers wrestle with world market prices, the fluctuating Australian dollar and variable seasonal conditions to produce red meat as efficiently as possible, a tiny few of their colleagues produce the country's most popular meat: chicken. As Asa Wahlquist found out in the first installment of this special four-part series, they farm in the most controlled livestock industry in the world which keeps its business performance cards close to its chest.

  The chicken meat industry is the unsung success story of Australian agriculture. Over the past 20 years chicken consumption has risen steadily to overtake beef as the most popular meat eaten. Last year Australians ate more than one million tonnes of chicken meat.
  The Australian Chicken Meat Federation (ACMF) claims that chicken meat  consumption has risen to 43.9 kilograms per person, rivalling total red meat consumption.
It calls chicken the number one meat in Australia, and estimates 90 per cent of the population eats chicken at least once a week, and one third eats it three or more times weekly.
    The industry expects to keep growing, but it is coming under pressure from volatile feedgrain prices, from competition between a contracting processor sector and from the supermarkets. And it could be facing challenges from the pork industry, which is similar in structure, and from the red meat industry which has been studying chicken's success and is applying the lessons it has learned.


Drought Support

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

The Weekend Australian, March 6 – 7, 2010
A hand up, not a handout
Labor rethinks the assistance offered to farmers
Asa Wahlquist
      Droughts are not what they used to be, and changes to drought policy are long overdue. So when Federal agriculture minister, Tony Burke, this week announced interest rate subsidies would be axed from future drought policy, few who work in the area were surprised.  But they are still anxiously waiting for news of what will replace it.


Winegrapes oversupply hits Murray Valley farmers

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

The Australian January 23-24, 2010  p 32
Tried and tested irrigation region becomes a vineyard graveyard
The oversupply of winegrapes has hit the inland areas of the Murray hardest
Asa Wahlquist

    On a hill near Merbein, high above a bend in the Murray River, lies the Pioneer Plantation. At the foot of upright Murray pines and under leaning desert gums are small metal plates bearing the names of the district's pioneers, the soldier settlers and their wives, the doctors, teachers and labourers who first settled this place.
    On the plains below, the land farmed and irrigated for over a century is being laid to waste hectare by hectare, farm by farm. Families who have grown grapes for generations are exiting the industry, the weakest link in an massively over-supplied industry.


Too few agricultural scientists

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

The Australian  November 18, 2009   page 27
Agricultural scientists are too thin on the ground

Agricultural science, food and natural resource management, have never been more important, argues Mark Adams, dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at Sydney University.
   "Carbon, water, food. This is what it is about," he says. "The world is going to be desperate for food, is desperate for food and will be increasingly hard pressed to supply it."


cattle and methane

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Cattle and Methane, broadcast on Ockham's Razor, ABC Radio National,
August 12, 2012.

A lot of people, amongst them Britain's Lord Stern and Sir Paul McCartney, argue that eating less meat could help save the planet. But there is a growing body of evidence that it is not simply a case of less meat means less heat. Rural journalist Asa Wahlquist takes a closer look at this issue.


Peter Wray Cullen

Monday, March 17th, 2008

28 May 1943 – 13 March 2008

(See also an earlier article by Åsa Wahlquist: Man with a plan).

After the news of Peter Cullen's final illness was made public on Tuesday March 11, Wentworth Group director Peter Cosier, said their phones rang off the hook. The day after Professor Cullen's death was announced, their website temporarily crashed.

Mr Cosier said the callers came from all walks of life: scientists, irrigators, conservationists, politicians, former students and people who have heard about him, read him or seen him on television. "It just tells me how wide a group he has touched," Cosier said. "His contribution to water reform was unparalleled".


The Australian 40 Years: The Land

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Published in The Australian July 29, 2004

In 40 years Australian farming has been turned on its head. At the heart of the change is a more hard-headed appreciation of the wide brown land. Rural writer Åsa Wahlquist examines the lessons learned.


Man with a plan

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Published in The Weekend Australian Magazine, May 31- June 1 2003

Not only can environmental scientist Peter Cullen demystify phenomena such as salinity and drought, he has workable solutions – and the ear of the Prime Minister.