Can you give us a rundown on the farm's history?
Mum and Dad were from Balaklava SA, they were looking to expand and came to look at the Wyalkatchem area in 1968. They purchased ‘Baladeen’ and moved over in 1969. I came back from Uni in 1992 and still live on the home farm with my wife and two boys aged 8 and 9. We started out with clover pastures and ran sheep with cropping, but now 100% cropping. Our country is very sandy and we have issues with erosion so are moving to CTF and using deep ripping. Being a sandy farm, potassium and nitrogen are the big factors so we need to retain the stubble where we can.
What HWSC methods have you used previously?
We did chaff carts back in the 2000's for about 5 years, and then windrow burning after that, we were considering going back to chaff carts but were given the opportunity to join the 2017 Farmer Research Partner Group with Seed Terminator. There was lots of talk in WA in 2017 after their 2016 run; we discussed it with our consultants who had ties with Chris Robinson from Kojonup Farmanco and made contact with Andrew Todd who is one of the 2016 pioneers and then put in an application online.
How did MY17 and MY18 compare?
2017 was our first year with the Seed Terminator, we had it on our Case 7230 and it was pretty much running at 100% engine load all the time. We changed over to a new Case 7240 halfway through the 2018 harvest and the new machine did about 100 hours with the Seed Terminator. The 7230 needed replacing, it wasn’t a decision based purely around the Seed Terminator but for CTF reasons as well. I definitely noticed the reduction in power on the old header, and with the new header, I didn’t even notice it was on the back. The power draw is down and even after 350 hours cutting at around beer can height or lower the screens are still good to go. The new header with MY18 version was running at 80-90% engine load and even pushing into some really good crop, going uphill, in deep ripped country with huge straw loads it was no worries at all.
Any particular challenges this season?
I was worried about a new machine going into harvest and worried about wear and extra engine load, (the main issues we had in 2017), but Nick has certainly sorted those things out. We had more straw going through the machine, but no real challenges, it came off beautifully. It was a good season for us this year, best tonnage we've ever had, I certainly can't complain.
What has not burning meant for your operation?
The biggest plus has been being about to do other operations in February and March; liming and ripping are two big jobs that you can concentrate on rather than splitting time between those and burning as well. It's hard to work out exactly, but it saves our operation a good couple of weeks; two people, two utes, we’d concentrate mainly on wheat stubbles, but occasional canola and barley as well. Burning seemed to drag on for weeks and weeks, its a lot of hours and a few thousand dollars, maybe $5000, but burning into the evenings, doing odd hours, it's just a stressful job. Chaff carts were worse as they'd burn for 3-4 days and cause escape fires and were overall more stressful than windrow burning. We cleaned things up pretty well in 5 years and then thought it was a good time to get out of it.
Have you tested for Herbicide Resistance on your property?
Our herbicide resistance test hasn't come back yet, we did our first one at harvest time this year. There was quite a bit of ryegrass this year as everything went into dry and then everything came up at the same time with the rain. We’ve definitely noticed were having to use bigger and bigger rates of chemicals to keep on top of ryegrass. The Seed Terminator is just another tool for weed management, I hope we see a reduction in the seed bank over the next three years.