The Urrbrae Estate


Urrbrae Estate is the property name of the farm at Urrbrae Agricultural High School.


Urrbrae is located on the foothills of the Mt.Lofty Ranges, 5km SE of Adelaide. The property is in one position with a total area of 28 hectares. 2 hectares is leased from the Waite Agricultural Research Institute 1 kilometre east.

Topography and Vegetation:

The area is gently sloping and all surface drainage runs NW to collect in swales and the Urrbrae creek before culminating in the Urrbrae Wetland. Surface drainage is good over all of the property.

The area had little tree cover when established in 1932 apart from planted driveways and boundary tree lines from the previous owner Peter Waite. Trees have been established as shelter belts on the SW corners of paddocks and a major planting has been done in paddock C in 1992 in a swales permaculture tree and bush plantation. Pine trees line the S & N boundaries.


Mean annual rainfall is 622.1 mm with a marked winter incidence. The mean average April – October rainfall is 484.2 mm i.e. Growing Season Rainfall. The drought frequency is 1 in 100 years and growing season is 7 months. Minor frosts can occur in May – June & August – September.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Mean Rainfall (mm) 23.8 23.5 24.0 52.3 76.6 76.6 87.6 75.4 63.5 52.2 36.7 29.5

Temperature and Sunshine:

Mean annual maximum temperature is 20.9 degrees Celsius. The mean annual minimum temperature is 12.0. The mean annual hours of sunshine per day is 6.3.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Mean max. temp ( C) 27.7 27.6 25.6 21.4 17.8 15.0 14.1 15.2 17.5 20.2 23.2 25.8
Mean min. temp (C) 16.2 16.5 15.4 12.9 10.7 8.5 7.7 8.1 9.2 10.9 12.8 14.7
Mean sunshine (hrs. per day) 9.5 9.1 7.5 5.6 4.0 3.3 3.4 4.4 5.4 7.0 7.9 8.5


Soils are chiefly on Urrbrae Red Brown earth with approximately 1/3 of the SW section of the farm, Dark brown cracking clays. Both soil types tend to have hard setting surfaces which warrants treatment with gypsum and applications of organic matter mainly farm compost and pig manure.  The pH ranges from 5.6 – 6.4

Land Capability Classes:

Class 1: Land capable of being used permanently for cropping provided minimum tillage is used and soil fertility maintained. There is little minimum water erosion hazard. Slopes range from 0 – 1.5% Area: 26 hectares

Class 2: Land with slight to moderate water erosion hazard but which can be used permanently for cropping provided soil fertility is maintained and minimum tillage and residue retention. Slopes range from 1.5 – 4%. Area: 2 hectares (paddock C). Three contour swales have been built and tree crops planted on the contour lines.

Land Degradation Situation:

There is minor evidence of water and wind erosion in the past with minor rill erosion and paddock dust. Contour swales on Class 2 land has reduced water flow and increased soil water capture. Tree belts in SW paddock corners have reduced wind velocity from prevailing winds. Gypsum and organic matter are added, crop residue retention and minimum tillage practices are used.


Water Supply:

The whole property is well watered by reticulated water and one dam. All paddocks are supplied with water making the property drought proof.

Irrigation feeds a number of paddocks;

  • 6 paddocks overhead irrigation
  • 2 paddocks subsurface irrigation
  • Drip irrigation in vineyard and orchard

Reedbed filtered water from the wetlands supplements mains water. Rainwater is also used.


The original fence plan was modified in 1998 and some further paddock subdivision in 2011. The condition of the fences varies from excellent to adequate and access to the whole property is very good. The perimeter is fenced with 1.8 metre security mesh.


Until 2014 the rotation followed

  • Barley – vetch / Pasture / Pasture / Pasture
  • Or continuous Pasture

This rotation evolved from a wheat/barley/pasture rotation which operated from 1970 – 2000 when the header was sold due to changing demands.

Broadleaf weeds  are spray controlled in the third year of pasture and resowing done in year 1 and 2 of pasture with Ryegrass and Clover.

The rotation is based on grazing needs from our heavy stocking rate, controlling broadleaf weeds, adding nitrogen to the system, building soil structure and managing soil borne diseases.

The farm’s biggest issue is barley grass dominating pastures and a small problem with 3 corner jack.

Potential Yields and Stocking Rates

Potential is calculated using the French – Schulz model based on the April to October rainfall (Growing Season Rainfall) .  The GSR is 484mm.

Calculation Potential Outcome
Wheat Yield (GSR – 110) x 20 7.48 t/ha
Barley Yield (GSR – 90) x 20 7.88 t/ha
Grain Legume Yield (GSR – 135) x 20 6.98 t/ha
Carrying Capacity(dry sheep equivalents) (Annual rainfall – 250) x 1.65/25 24.5 dse’s/ha

Target Outcomes

Targets are determined by management practices. More management strategies are available  to our livestock systems to overcome a rainfall shortfall eg supplementary feeding, feed lotting, irrigation, agistment and selling livestock.

  • Cropping – All cropping is done for pasture or hay. A target of 60 % potential yield for barley hay 4.7 t/ha ie 95 small square bales /ha
  • Carrying Capacity – Stock types have set target capacity at 70% potential carrying capacity. This determines capacity at 17.1 dse’s per ha.


Assistant Principal – Agriculture
Agriculture Curriculum Coordinator Farm Manager
Agriculture Teachers (Full time – 8) Farm Enterprise Managers (3)
Agriculture Teachers (Part time – 5) Farm Mechanic (0.6)


The farm operates as both a working farm and an agricultural science laboratory. This enables students to learn enterprise management and how science enhances production and animal welfare.

The overall objective is to demonstrate highest standard management and optimal production from each land class and enterprise activity.


  • Demonstrate a wide range of agricultural and horticultural enterprises for teaching and learning activities.
  • Increase soil organic matter levels by using minimum tillage and residue conservation and recycling practices
  • Optimise grazing pressure with strategic and rotation livestock movements and feeding procedures
  • Measure and record production variables with students to facilitate decision making and improvement
  • Use technology for measurement and record systems
  • Demonstrate safe operating procedures and “best practice” management techniques in an educational setting.

Plant and Machinery


  • Massey Ferguson
  • Case
  • Case
  • John Deere

  • Shearer Trash Seeder
  • Disc seeder
  • Blade plough
  • Sprayer
  • Harrows

  • Mower
  • Rake
  • Baler
Vineyard & Winery

  • Sprayer
  • Mower mulcher
  • Secateurs
  • Netting

  • Holden Rodeo (2)
  • Suzuki ute (2)
  • Quad bikes (2)
  • Autosteer Polaris training vehicle

  • Shearing plant (2)
  • Woolpress & Wool table
  • Grinder
  • Scales (4)
  • Dairy & milking equipment



  • Vehicle Hoist
  • Lathe
  • MIG welder
Livestock Handling

  • Handling yards (3)
  • Scales (4)
  • Cattle crush
  • Dairy
  • Feedlot
Birdproof Enclosures

  • Vegetable Garden (0.5 ha)
  • Orchard (0.5 ha)
  • SAARDI Lucerne Breeding (1ha)
  • Aquaculture
  • Dams
  • Crop Trial




  • Trailers (4)
  • Feed mixer & Auger
  • Silos (7)
  • Olive oil press

  • Compost bays ( 25m3)
  • Biogas dam with flare facility
  • Reticulated wetland water and rainwater

  • Glasshouse
  • Shade houses (2)
  • Potting shed
  • Soil bays



  • 5 Hycuya
  • 4 Suri

  • 20 Boer goats

  • Black Suffolk Stud
    • 30 breeding ewe
    • 15 Rams sold pa
  • Merino wethers (15)

  • Poll Hereford Stud
    • 5 Breeding Cows
  • Steers (4 – various breeds)
  • Holstein Friesian (2) agisted 5 months

  • 4 stockhorse

  • 8 breeding sows

(Large White X Landrace, Berkshire)

  • Duroc boar

  • Layers 100 Isa Brown
  • Meatbirds 1200 per year
  • Specimen Breeds
    • White Leghorn
    • Rhode Island Red
    • Barnevelder
    • Anacona
    • Wyandote
    • Orpinton

  • 14 hives
  • Honey production and Pollination services


Aquaculture Commercial: Barramundi, Trout & silver perchNative Fish Recovery Program: Purple Spotted GudgeonOther: Rainbow Fish, Murray Cod, Yabbies, MarronAquaponics

Cropping and Horticulture

Orchard (0.5ha)

  • Apples, Pears, Peaches, Citrus
Vineyard (1 ha)

  • Wine grapes (Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc)
Native Vegetation

  • Indigenous plants and native foods trail)
Irrigated Pasture

  • Lucerne
  • Kikuyu

  • Italian Ryegrass
  • Mixed Clover
Hay Cropping

  • Barley-Vetch

  • Year 8 Gardens
  • Herbs
Ornamental horticulture

  • Orchids
  • Indoor & garden plants
  • Propagation and grafting
  • Tissue culture