Friday, 25 May 2012

and the rains came....

Well we wanted rain and we certainly got it, we started seeding again on Monday the 21st May, in anticipation of the rain coming mid week. Since Thursday we have had 42mm which is great. We are now exactly half way through seeding. We have all the JNZ wheat in and two more Gladius wheat paddocks to sow and then we will move onto barley.

Rain coming rolling in, we were trying to get the seeder filled as quickly as possible before the rain came

We are stopped again at the moment as it is too wet now, we would get the trucks bogged in the paddocks if we were to try and move them. Only a few minor electrical faults on the seeder to contend with so far, which isn't bad.

It is so good to be sowing without dust everywhere, I love when the soil is turned over and looks dark for a change, making new patterns in the landscape, the colours always look great when there is a dark sky but the sun shines through.

Looking her best for sitting on the tractor

Ive had my little helper Indy out with me this week when she is not at Kindy, she can tolerate a couple of hours at a time, we like to sing and have the radio up full blast. Seeding and Harvest are actually about the only time of the year when I actually catch up with all the current affairs and news as we are listening to the radio all day.

JNZ wheat up and away, although it is an older variety it is a consistent performer for us, so definitely not ready to throw it away yet

Also this week we wiped our hands clean of last years crop and sold the last lot of Nipper lentils this week for $500 per tonne. Time will tell I suppose if it was the right thing to do, although the price did drop $15 after we sold them, so obviously we swamped the market !!!

I also I thought that there was a good opportunity at the end of last week for doing Canola and wheat swaps for this coming harvest. We have already signed up some Canola for this year at a good price but we are nervous about signing up anymore physical until it is well and truly up and out the ground. We decided on Canola as it had reached $567 for January 13 swaps, only to find out that we did not actually have a facility in place for Canola swaps only wheat, Doh!!!!!, hopefully it was a blessing in disguise.
We were told it may take up to two weeks to get the facility in place, oh well we live and learn!

Hopefully get started again tomorrow morning, when it dries out a little.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Still waiting for rain.....

Well its now been 7 days since we last had the seeder in the paddock, though we are not sitting around idly, we have been burning chaff cart heaps. The chaff cart which we pull behind our header ( harvester) was made by a local engineering company, and  has been an amazing tool for us on our farm. Anything that saves  having to rely so heavily on chemicals for weed removal is great. They can collect up to 80% of ryegrass seeds. The only problem is in the removal of the heaps, I dread it every year. They can burn from anything from 1-4 days, and the smoke creates a social impact on all surrounding rural communities. (I'll appologise now to all our neighbours) Also a fire risk to neighbouring paddocks. By Law they must be pushed over so they are no higher than 40cm. This year we have had sheep on agistement in some of the paddocks, they managed to flatten the heaps for us. I was initially worried about the sheep spreading the ryegrass seed around the paddock, but after doing research the amount that is still viable as a seed when it passes through them, is very little.

Burning chaff heaps

This is probably as good a time as possible to mention that Ben and I have a difference of opinion on nearly everything that happens on the farm. From marketing grain to what crops to plant. We are very competative and even compete to see who can burn chaff cart piles the quickest, who can sow a paddock the neatest,or can capture the best grain prices and so on and on!!! We have been having discusions for the last few days on wether to start sowing again or not, but came to the mutual decision not to.
 The  thing is Ben and I chose to live and work togther, so I can only imagine what it is like for siblings that are on the farm together who do not entirely see eye to eye, which is a  problem in so  many farming families.

Our delivery of UAN ( liquid nitrogen) also arrived this week, which was great, as we were told that there was a national shortage. We now have about 37,000 litres  on farm, which is about a quarter of what we will use this year.

Soil testing was also carried out by our Agronomist Steve Watts last week, we try to test as close to seeding as possible so the results are as relevent  as can be for the growing crops, as we base our nitrogen requirements on each individual paddocks results.
This is a deep 60cm soil sample showing soil profile in one particlar paddock

We had Steve  out yesterday checking out some weeds and also mouse action, so unfortunatly we are baiting some paddocks before seeding now as they are heavily infested, the first paddock we sowed is coming up now and that is getting its second baiting, just around the borders.

Well its forcast for rain wed/ thur next week so lets see what happens, we will start seeding a couple of days before hand if its looks certain. Then I suppose we will be pulling some very long hours to try and make up some lost time.

 Canola 7 days after it was sown

 wheat just 4 days after it was sown

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Seeding begins

This year we started seeding on the 5th May, Having not had the best opening rains. 19mm fell around the 24th April, then we had 4mm on the 2nd May. We have been minimum till for the last 4 years, and have burnt no paddocks this year. Seeding directly into unslashed standing stubble. We are not taking any chances with the mice this year, as we can see plenty of activity in most of the paddocks. So they are all getting baited at 1 Kg/ Ha behind the seeder. We have sown all the canola and one paddock of JNZ wheat.

Snail bait spreader being used behind seeder for mousebait

                                 We are sowing 284Ha to Wheat ( Gladius and JNZ)
                                                                   272Ha to Barley ( Commander and Fleet)
                                                206 Ha to Canola (44Y84CL)
                                         45Ha to Peas ( Twilight)

We are not sowing any lentils this year as we have problems growing them at our home farm as we have Namoi vetch issues, and at our other block they are not fitting into the rotation, Im happy about this as the Price on offer is not great for lentils, and the Canola price is excellent at the moment.
We usually try and keep the rotations to one third wheat, one third Barley, and one third break crop, this year it has worked spot on.

Snail bait is getting put out tomorrow and after we finish the paddock we are on tonight, we are going to stop and wait for the forecast rain of 1-5 mm ( fingers crossed) it is starting to get very dusty out there. This is actually the first time since I have been on the farm that we have had to stop because of lack of moisture in the seed bed.

The darker area on the right hand side of the  hill is the
grape marc

Something new that we are trying this year is to put more organic matter in the soil through spreading Grape Marc. It is a by product of the grape harvesting industry. Basically what the grape harvesters spit out the back. We were given the analysis of it from Tarac in Nurioopta and it had plenty of organic matter  plus some nitrogen, It is free so we picked up two semi loads of it and spread it on some of the worst hills on the farm.

Well here's hoping for some good rain this weekend

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

2011 season in a nutshell......

Last year we had one of our best seasons to date, the rain came when we needed it, diseases in the crops were not to bad as the spring was reasonably dry.
Early forward contracts on Wheat and Canola that we took out back in  Dec 2010-Febuary 2011 helped raise the average prices.
Mouse numbers were in Plague proportions and we spent over  $20,000 alone on mouse bait ( $23 per Ha ) but I'm glad we did!.
 Snails were terrible in our pea crop, which to add insult to injury then got descimated in a hail storm just before harvest.
Lightning strike hit one of the worst sandiest hills on the farm just after harvest, and burnt about 20 Ha of stubble, which has since drifted and drifted all summer.
Out of  36 loads of Malt Barley delivered to the Silos, only 3 went Malt grade because protein was too low, never mind the price differential was only $10
There's plenty more, but all in all a great year

Here are a few images to wrap up 2011......

Our new truck bogged in sand for the first time, but not the last
 I'm sure!!

Mouse digging down and eating the wheat seed
2  days after it was sown

Everything on this farm has to earn its keep!!
our best tractor the 9G
walking a long way out to see Dad @ harvest

Chuffed with new signwriting on the truck
Snail damage to pea pod @ harvest

Good to see the mouseoff working

Everyone out checking early canola for insects

From little things big things grow, the same paddock 2
 months later

The Pyros, My Dad really happy to create his
 first cloud,   Burning wheat stubble

The area burnt out by the lightning strike

Crop checks by horse back

Did I mention that Ben sprayed the paddocks a few times
Liquid nitrogen spraying

Our friend Danny taking a photo of the Canola,
 while spreading mousebait by air for us
Reaping Lentils, with the chaff cart on

I hate this job, spraying fencelines,
somebodies got to do it
Indy with her pack lunch getting ready to sow with Dad

Oooops this was so Ben's fault!!!!
this is what happens when the bottom access hole isn't shut

A bit of background......

Ben and Katie Thyer
I have decided to record a year on our broad acre cropping farm, through images, stories and facts about living and working on a family run farm. By family I mean my husband Ben and I. We are lucky enough to have my mum Winnie, who comes out from Scotland and looks after our two young kids twice a year for seeding and harvest. This allows me to work full time at these times of year, when often we are working 15+ hours a day.
Indy and Hugo helping check last years lentils
           I came into farming by chance when I was backpacking around Australia, and fell in love with the way of life. If I hadn't  met my husband Ben, I would have been heading down the path of corporate and city life  back in Scotland, where I had finished a degree in Interior Architecture.

In the last four years I have been studying, and in Febuary this year graduated with a Diploma in Agriculture and an Advanced Diploma in Rural Business management through RST. I was lucky enough to have great tutors that were very passionate about farming and also a great bunch of collegues that I studied with. 
Leadership day with our RBM group

The skills that I learnt through studying have given me the confidence to help run our farm more effectively in all aspects including agronomy, business management and grain marketing. I leave all the spanner twisting to Ben.I have been attending as many grain marketing seminars, and crop days as possible and also recently attending a local group called Ping ( Partners in Grain). 

We are very lucky in this industry that we have so much information at our fingertips, if we take the time to do the research.

We Farm 900 Ha  and are purely cropping. We grow Wheat, Barley, Canola, Peas and Lentils.  Our soil here is Alkaline PH 8- 8.5 Sandy loam over clay
Rainfall 400-450mm
Front Gate