The dirt on Ballarat farm land values

LANDMARK Harcourts Ballarat rural real estate manager, Adrian Smith, works in an area that contains many types of agriculture and consequently his sales provide an insight into their acreage values.

Adrian has managed sales campaigns that have sold potato growing land, broadacre cropping land, properties for livestock and forestry production.

In the five years Adrian has been the Landmark Harcourts Ballarat manager the majority of his listings have been within 100 kilometre radius of Ballarat.

His listings have defined his sales area and have taken him to north of Avoca, south to the Otway Ranges, east towards Bacchus Marsh and into Victoria’s Western District and beyond.

By value per acre within Adrian’s sales region in 2018 the three most valuable property types are (in order) potato growing land, broadacre cropping land next and cattle grazing country third.

Sales of potato growing land that Adrian has managed has varied between $6000 and $7000 an acre.

To achieve the higher price range the land must have the fertile basalt volcanic soils and access to sources of irrigation. These features are evident in places including Newlyn, as well as Dean and nearby Blampied. 

Broadacre cropping property sales Adrian has been involved with over 2018 have varied between the high $3000 per acre price range to just over $4000 an acre Adrian said.

Broadacre farming land that falls within this price range are in areas around the Western District towns of Skipton, Streatham, Lake Bolac and Willaura.

Adrian said the broadacre land sales that attracted the higher prices are those that are almost entirely arable and in a 550mm-600mm annual average rainfall zone. 

He has noticed that the bigger cropping operators are keen for large areas of land to work and are willing to pay a premium price for cropping land.

“Some of the bigger (broadacre cropping) players just want more land as they already have the technology and machinery to work it and they will pay a premium to obtain greater scale,” Adrian said. 

Livestock grazing properties are far more widespread across Adrian’s sales area he said with suitable cattle and sheep grazing land among the mainstays of his rural listings. 

Adrian has noticed that lighter pastured country that cannot support a high stocking rate has been sold between $1500 to $1800 an acre with the price determined by the extent of arable area to allow pasture to be planted without too much difficulty.

He said he had seen higher end value cattle grazing country fetch up to $2500 to $3500 an acre if a property was easier to sow with improved pasture.

There have been a number of forestry plantation sales Adrian has completed in the previous 4 years that have occurred in the Heytesbury district of south western Victoria and towards the western side of the Otway Ranges.

He said he had sold forestry properties in and near Cooriemungle, around Curdievale, Kennedys Creek and Simpson and also towards the South Australian border.

Adrian has sold blue gum plantations with mature trees still standing and also sold land with just the stumps after the trees had been harvested.

The forestry plantation land sale prices realised have ranged between $1500 an acre up to $2300 per acre. 

Adrian said the variation in price depended on a few factors including the age and state of the trees, what amount of preparation was needed to remediate a property back to agriculture and what area was available to plant if another rotation of trees was going to be planted.

He said about 60 per cent of the inquiries for rural properties he gets comes from local interests with the rest from outside the greater Ballarat area. 

He said inquiry for rural land from locals had been steady for the previous 12 months although he had noticed a drop in the number of people from overseas inquiring about rural properties.

Potato farm land near Ballarat attracts top prices due to its rich red volcanic soil.