NT fodder “oasis” seizes conglomerate
Caason Group, founded by Melbourne-based investor Craig Astill, has added Oolloo Farm, a 1047 hectare forage “oasis” two hours north of Alice Springs, to its extensive operations which include ownership of Aileron de 408,000 hectares.
The company, whose interests span agribusiness, mining, IT, healthcare, telecommunications and international trade, paid $ 6.1 million for freehold ownership, a rarity in the NT – most large scale rural farms are pastoral leases – and one that came with a 1000 – megaliter water extraction license and six irrigation pivots.
Access to water has transformed more than 330 hectares of the Oolloo farm into an oasis of lush greenery. From the air, the property looks like giant cricket ovals against a red desert sea.
The Oolloo farm was previously used to grow table grapes and melons before being developed into a streamlined forage production operation by well-known Northern Territory ranchers Roy and Janet Chisholm.
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Mr Astill said he was confident the acquisition of Oolloo Farm would support its sister operation, the Aileron breeding station, which manages 8,500 head of cattle.
“The operations planned to develop Oolloo will strengthen our focus on innovation / R&D – the development of new crops, soil management techniques and agricultural technologies.
“In addition, the ability to generate strong cash flow from its current hay production will be key to the success of the Caason Group’s business plans for the region.
This acquisition will be managed and operated by the wholly-owned subsidiary of Caason Group, Ti Tree Food & Fodder. Caason also plans to grow industrial hemp in the area. He hopes to finalize the approvals by the end of the year.
The sale of Oolloo Farm was negotiated by Olivia Thompson of Nutrien Harcourts.
With livestock prices rising, Ms Thompson said ranchers were spending money on high-value fodder farming operations.
The Oolloo farm was offered for sale alongside the 2144 hectare land grape farm by the Chisholms.
The Territory Grape Farm, which comes with a 2000 megalitre water license, remains on the market with an asking price of $ 7 million.
The two properties lie eight miles from each other in the Ti Tree area, which Ms Thompson said was considered one of Australia’s “most controlled growing environments”.
“With lots of sun and heat, the growing seasons are longer and the growing time is shorter,” she said.
Mr. Astill describes Caason Group, which he founded in 1999, as “a sophisticated investment group and a private family office”.
Its agri-food division is an investor in Ceres Tag, which uses earrings to monitor livestock, and industrial hemp group Food, Fiber & Land International.
Aileron Pastoral Holdings of Caason has formed a joint venture with agricultural conglomerate NT Aragorn Group to develop a 5,000 head feedlot.
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