Thursday, April 9, 2009


Well My pictures downloaded in reverse order today... and I cant be bothered changing them all around, so I'll just run with it in the reverse order. She'll be right.
Ok well here you see us unloading the last of the Hyperno Durham. The Ford Courier tipper proved to be quite handy for this job and made it quite easy.
A couple of old farmers there. My Dad on the right (Bob's left) and Bob on the left (Dad's right). We're actually unloading a new variety of Durham wheat seed, Hyperno, into the silos there at the back of Bob's shed. Bob loves a good yarn so he was more than happy to lend a helping hand and then we all stand around chatting for quite some time (usually until my wife rings me wondering how long I'm going to be before I get home).
Hyperno is a variety of Durham wheat. If you want to look up the statistics and field trial results on Hyperno feel free to do a google search and there'll be plenty of stats. I've only seen some results quickly the other day, after the seed had already arrived at the rural supply shop. I actually ordered the seed about 3 years ago, and it finally arrived. I'm lucky in that my brother is an agronomist (agricultural crop looking at farm guru - actually you'll find the real meaning of agronomist in the dictionary) at the local rural shop, so I left it up to him to select the variety, which at the time was still just a number. New varieties are allocated a number well before they are given a name.
Why Durham? Well I'm glad you asked. I guess I like the challenge of something new, not that I think durham will be much different to growing wheat, so I am confident that it will be a success on our farm. I took on a much greater challenge a few years back with Kaspa peas, and feel that they have worked for us (even though we are still perfecting our reaping techniques - snail management being the main problem). A bit of a farm background here... up until about the mid 90's we only grew barley on a year in year out rotation. So quite a traditional, and long standing, farming practice. And hence any deviation from this is quite a step for us. Well we've come along way, and had great success (I feel) with a 5 year rotation of pasture, kaspa peas, Correl wheat, either SloopSa malting barley (which we've ceased using now due mainly to high malting specifications making it nearly impossible to achieve a malting grade)or another wheat kukri, then maritime feed barley and back to pasture. We have come along way. The durham will replace the correll wheat in the rotation as the first wheat and correll will replace the 2nd wheat, kukri, which was never a stunning performer anyway. There are some pretty good benefits of using the rotation we do and if you think it's a little strange at all or have any questions about why we do it the way we do, the benefits etc, please leave a comment and ask about it and I'll be happy to let you know.
Here's a recap on the rotation so it's easy to see (hopefully if I get the formatting here right):
  1. Pasture
  2. Peas - Kaspa
  3. Wheat - Correll (this will be replaced with Durham wheat - Hyperno)
  4. Wheat - Kukri (this will be replaced with Correll wheat)
  5. Feed Barley - maritime

Another consideration taken in the decision to go into durham was the ease at which we can manage nitrogen levels in the crop in order to reach target protein levels in the grain to achieve the durham grades (the grain has to have high protein to make the grade or else ya don't get much for it). For starters we generally get high protein in our wheat, up around the 13 -14%. The durham will be sown into pea stubbles which generally fix nitrogen in the soil which gives it a great start. We can also apply extra nitrogen really easily later on in the crop stage if/when we need to. Urea is often used to increase nitrogen (or N) levels, but timing the application with rain is very important with urea (which is a granular fertilizer that is spread on the crop with some sort of spreader). I use EasyN or UAN (that 2 different names for the same thing) which is a liquid form of nitrogen. I set it up a few years ago with a dedicated UAN tank and upgraded transfer pump with plumbing to draw from both the UAN tank and a water tank. This pump is used for filling our boom spray for all spraying operations. The boom spray has been fitted with streaming fertilizer nozzles specifically for the UAN. So using the boom spray it is easy to apply basically any rate of nitrogen quickly and without absolute dependence on rain at the time to "wash it in". Hence getting protein levels right in durham shouldn't be too hard. Especially with such an expert agronomist keeping an eye on things for us.

It wasn't until the seed arrived at the rural shop that we found out it was in a 1 tonne bulka bag. We are used to buying new seed in 20 or 25kg bags, which are much easier for us to manage as we have no equipment that would actually be able to lift a full tonne of anything off anything. After much careful thought and consideration we came up with a plan to place the bulka bag on its side in the back of the tipper ute. There is a hole in the bottom so just open that up and pour it into a hopper and auger it into an empty silo... Easy! Well the emptying bit did turn out to be really easy...

but the putting the bulka bag on the back of the ute, on it's side in such a way that the hole in the bottom of the bag could be accesses from right at the back of the ute turned out to be more of a challenge. This was done by the staff at the rural supply shop with the fork lift. Sounds like it should be easy... but no not really. Well perhaps if the fork lift operator wasn't also the agronomist (as good as he is) but a more experience operator (who did come out to lend a hand when we ran out of ideas... and had stabbed a fork through the bag spilling about a bucket full of seed onto the ute tray) it may have been quicker and easier. Don't worry, it did all work out good in the end, not a grain was wasted and we had a good chance to give my brother a hard time while we were at it.
Overall successful day and I even ran down (which means drove down briefly) to Fountains to check on the wethers down there and they were fine, in the right place with plenty of water. Although they did try to escape out the gate while I went down to the trough, but never mind I had Andy the supa-dog, he woulda sorted em out. But never needed to as they decided to abort their escape attempt when they heard the ute coming.
Have a great Easter - God Bless

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