One Friday 14 members of the Accounting team at GMG jumped in the utes and took off out into the Mallee to visit the White Family to learn more about what farmers actually do, to get an understanding off the challenges they face, about how updates to equipment and technology assist farmers today and a live demonstration of the sowing process.
After a short while in the car we reached our destination in the Manangatang region. What a lovely place, I couldn't understand why I had never actually visited the area before. At our first stop we became familiar with a Disc Seeder, CAT tractor on tracks and a Grouper. Many including myself had no idea what a Grouper actually was, it was interesting to see how it worked and the efficiencies it created with the speed in filling the seed box with seed and fertiliser in the paddock.
Andy backing up the grouper to the seed box. RIGHT HAND DOWN ANDY!!
In the same paddock we were shown different soil types and it was explained to us what strategies are used to maximise yields in any given paddock as well as the pro's and con's of sandy soil versus more heavy clay type soil.
It was interesting to hear how heavy country in the past was something that farmers really wanted because it was able to grow better crops with lower rainfall and how sand was generally considered more difficult land to farm and hence worth less. What our client explained was with new technology, new and improved grain variety's and farming practices that preserve soil moisture this has resulted in a move towards some of the lighter soils which have now started performing well.
We got an insight into the different varieties of grain and why farmers rotate from one variety to the next. What Rust is, I thought rust was something usually found on a Holden or Ford. Rust is dispersed by wind or moisture it is actually a fungus type disease that attaches itself to the plant and can significantly reduce yields if left unattended.
Sam's rig in action (above)
At our second stop we were shown a tine seeder, spray truck, header and various other pieces of equipment used over the years and still used today. A slightly different, larger and possibly more sophisticated seeder is the Tine Seeder, which offered other advantages over the disc seeder such as consistent seed depth and accuracy in hilly country, it also packed the dirt down better which helped trap the moisture in which encourages seed germination.
It was explained to us the challenges that farmers are faced with this year due to the lack of any post harvest rains, moisture being a major issue but also the difficulties of weed control when it does rain and how seeds from previous harvests are usually eradicated with summer rain and summer sprays.
We were given an insight into how the GPS and Auto steer assist farmers to gain efficiency with driver accuracy. It is amazing how accurate GPS can be compared to driving freehand and over a large paddock how much land would either be missed or overlapped hence wasting time, fuel, chemical, seed etc. DVD players and TV's also play a part in farming! The idea being the help to keep the driver awake and allows the driver to spend more time behind the wheel, sure beats staring out into the paddock for 12 hours straight.
CAT Tractor &Tine Seeder
Overall it was a very informative and interesting trip, we all learnt so much from it. Thank you very much to the White family for taking the time to educate us on grain farming, I think it was an eye opener for us to see just how involved and sophisticated the industry has become.