Right trac­tor for the job

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - PAID CONTENT -

CHAL­LENG­ING weather con­di­tions are test­ing the met­tle of farmers, but as is of­ten the case, test­ing times also bring out the best in pro­duc­ers – and the ma­chin­ery they rely on to get the job done. North­west NSW farmer Tony Wil­son and his fam­ily run Be­lah Downs, be­tween Pal­la­mallawa and War­i­alda, where 1000ha is de­voted to run­ning cat­tle and grow­ing oats, and 400ha for grow­ing oats and bar­ley for feed, gen­er­at­ing be­tween 2000 and 3000 bales a year and 600 to 800 tonnes of grain for the prop­erty’s si­los.

There hasn’t been much op­por­tu­nity to re­plen­ish the prop­erty’s feed stocks this year, how­ever, with the fam­ily do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to main­tain a core herd of breed­ers. An inch of rain ear­lier in Oc­to­ber though prompted Tony, wife Ka­t­rina and son Tan­ner to sow some for­age sorghum, the first out­ing their two Case IH trac­tors – a Mag­num 340 and Mag­num 310 CVT – have had in months. The 340 is fit­ted with a front-end loader for hay and pad­dock work, and is used to pull a boom spray, while the 310 CVT is ded­i­cated to the cul­ti­va­tion and sow­ing side of the busi­ness. “We’ve had a series of Mag­nums since the late ’90s and we’re still buy­ing them, which says a lot about the trac­tor,” Tony said.

“In the be­gin­ning, it was a price de­ci­sion more than any­thing, but they’ve got a lot of fea­tures we like – they’re easy to use and ev­ery­thing is right where you need it. With the con­trols, for spray­ing par­tic­u­larly, with your throt­tle and gear change in the one lever, that’s a plus. We’ve got cab sus­pen­sion in them both too, which means op­er­a­tor fa­tigue is min­i­mal – it makes a big dif­fer­ence.”

East of the Wil­sons, up on the New Eng­land table­lands, De­nis and Jenni Wright have also been busy feed­ing live­stock. They run a prime lamb, su­perfine wool and beef op­er­a­tion on two prop­er­ties be­tween Armidale and Glen Innes. In the 12 months to the start of Oc­to­ber, they’d had about half their nor­mal rain­fall, mean­ing the feed­ing of about 3000 sheep and 300 cows – down from 400 in a reg­u­lar sea­son – three times a week. It’s a sched­ule that put their two Far­mall JX110s front and cen­tre, with the trac­tors used for all the gen­eral-pur­pose work around the two prop­er­ties in­clud­ing feed­ing, fenc­ing, un­load­ing and mov­ing feed, and a raft of other main­te­nance tasks. The trac­tors work with a blade, bucket, hay spike and fork, de­pend­ing on the task.

“We wanted some­thing sim­ple and wanted it with a cab – a trac­tor as easy as pos­si­ble while be­ing able to han­dle a range of jobs. The Far­mall JX110 works for us – it’s got the (110hp) nec­es­sary power, it’s com­fort­able and ef­fi­cient,” De­nis said.

The Wrights have al­ways fed their stock through win­ter, so De­nis said that reg­u­lar con­tact with a whole­sale hay bro­ker had helped main­tain their sup­ply of feed dur­ing the drought, with ce­real hay for the cat­tle com­ing from Vic­to­ria, and grain, faba beans and lucerne sourced through lo­cal con­tacts.

When it comes to feed, the Wrights are also con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of buy­ing their own seeder to give them the abil­ity to sow their own pas­ture and fod­der crops “in a timely man­ner”, rather than be­ing de­pen­dant on con­trac­tors.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

PER­FECT: The Wil­son fam­ily on the New Eng­land table­lands chose a Far­mall JX110 for their prop­erty.

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