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My name is Stephen Taylor, I am 24 and recently began working full time with my parents, Kym and Mel, on the completion of my welding/boiler making apprenticeship. We farm two properties: one in Waikerie, SA and one in Copeville, SA. Both are in the northern Mallee.

The Waikerie farm is mainly red sand and sandy loams with some greyer flats and some rock reefs, more suited to grazing. The property is about 7,500 acres, with an annual rainfall of 250 mm. On this farm we run merinos and crop 3,500 - 4,000 acres composed of mainly wheat, some barley, lupins and peas some years.

The property at Copeville is a mix of white sands, red sandy loams and heavier flats with some nonwetting sand. The Copeville farm is 5,300 acres with an annual rainfall of 300mm, we grow a rotation of wheat, barley and lupins, and we are looking to grow canola in the future.

This year we started with good moisture at depth and reasonable early rains and then our real opening rain was a bit late, so the cropping program started slightly later than normal. It was still a promising start with good germination and rain in late June through to the start of august, had everything looking green. In typical northern mallee fashion spring rain has not been present and the crops are really looking for a drink.

I am really looking forward to the future of our farming enterprise and hope I can improve the crops yields and soil health. We are looking to grow more break crops, as our land is not suited to heavy grazing. Low sheep prices and the difficulty of finding shearers also influence this decision. Growing lupins, we have been trying to improve the nitrogen in the sands with the plan to grow canola on the stubble on the better soils to give a second year of grass control and make use of the extra nitrogen. Meanwhile, growing lupins on lupins on the sands in the same paddock to hopefully build a better base for the following wheat phase. I also believe that moving to an automatic variable rate seeding system as opposed to altering rates manually, will be a big improvement to our system with our highly variable soil types with less operator error. This will also make it easier to potentially employ extra help during seeding in the future.

With a good start to the season, and if we can get a nice rain or two to finish, this would be ideal to bring the crop home and have a good harvest. It is a very exciting time to be involved in agriculture with all the new technology being developed including green on green spray systems and the future of automation in the industry.