Halfway across Australia at Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula is where my family has been farming for four generations. The country is highly variable in soil types from nonwetting sands over clay through to heavy red loams to grey calcareous loams over limestone and everything in between. With an annual rainfall of sub 300mm, and around 200mm of that in the growing season, although we are seeing a trend to greater falls in the summer months, making summer moisture conservation a focus of our system.
It was months ago at Innovation Generation in Adelaide that Robert Siviour from GrainGrowers asked me to reflect on the season and my time as a representative on GrainGrowers’ National Policy Group. If I had of written this then, the season held so much potential despite a difficult start that was dry and unusually warm, given good rainfall over summer which was mostly conserved.
However, a decile 2 growing season rainfall to date, and a number of consecutive frosts in the minus 3-5 range has seen some of our optimism erode. Of course, there is always some hope, and a significant rain event in August could still see a just below average crop, as markets remain strong. Crop development has been generally ahead of normal timing due to warm conditions, with some of our earliest cereal crops initiating grain fill in the first week of August whilst others are at head emergence.
Dependant on soil moisture and seasonal change will see our attention on farm turn to the desiccation of green manure crops and medic pastures. Mice have been creating issues again around the district, with some growers aerial baiting again in response to significant crop damage. The upcoming National Policy Group meeting happening this month in Perth will be my final meeting, and marks 7.5 years of representing growers in the Western region.
Whilst uncertain and trepidatious when I was first tapped on the shoulder, the experience has been incredibly enjoyable, with the opportunity to discuss and influence outcomes and broad issues affecting growers, and the chance to meet and work with some fantastic people around the country. The organisation has supported me and invested in my development along the way to ensure I’m better equipped as an industry leader.
Highlights in my time include the Class 1 Heavy Vehicle Notice, the Grains Sustainability Framework, and attending the G20 in Argentina alongside then Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud in 2018. Grain Growers has grown as an organisation significantly in this time. It is incredibly well resourced with a strong reputation both within industry and within government. It has always amazed me just how much traction Grain Growers has in the halls of Canberra, and I think it is the respect and trust for the organisation that I am most proud of.
I’d encourage anyone who’s looking for a challenge and a new learning experience to consider putting themselves forward to help shape the industry going forward; it is incredibly rewarding.