‘Di­ver­sity’ is cru­cial

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

‘Di­ver­sity’ has emerged as a Wim­mera-mallee post-har­vest catch-cry as farm­ers across the re­gion as­sess one of the busiest and most vari­able sea­sons in years.

Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent and Wim­mera grain-grower David Jochinke, re­flect­ing on an ‘ex­haust­ing’ year, said a need for grow­ers to pur­sue ‘farm-man­age­ment di­ver­sity’ had been the pro­found les­son to emerge from the sum­mer har­vest.

He said vast vari­abil­ity in crop­ping re­sults em­pha­sised a need for farm­ers to con­sider di­ver­si­fy­ing in ev­ery­thing from crop va­ri­ety to sow­ing, fer­til­is­ing and spray­ing times to mit­i­gate po­ten­tial risks.

“Over­all we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced an above-av­er­age year and we’ve seen good vol­umes in a lot of crops,” he said.

“At the same time, the qual­ity has been a lot more all over the shop than we were ex­pect­ing. Cir­cum­stances have re­ally high­lighted the need for di­ver­sity.

“Di­ver­sity and good man­age­ment has re­warded a lot of peo­ple and re­flected the rep­u­ta­tion Wim­mera farm­ers have as be­ing among the best in the world.

“We have to be at the fore­front of the in­dus­try glob­ally. Deal­ing with en­vi­ron­men­tal, com­mod­ity and in­ter­na­tional fluc­tu­a­tions force us to be good man­agers.”

Mr Jochinke said legumes and oilseeds had gen­er­ally been re­ally good cash crops, with len­tils and chick­peas lead­ing the charge, al­though prices for beans and field peas had not been quite as strong as pre­vi­ous years.

“I have to say the ce­real qual­ity af­ter frost dam­age has been quite dev­as­tat­ing for some peo­ple,” he said.

“In some cases en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions did a lot more dam­age than we first thought.

“We’ve seen a lot of feed-grade wheat and bar­ley and we weren’t ex­pect­ing that over such a large area. At the end of the day, the Wim­mera is also feel­ing the ef­fects of a large global glut of feed grain.”

Re­prieve

But Mr Jochinke said the sea­son had pro­vided many grow­ers with a re­prieve af­ter two dis­as­trous sea­sons and the hope now was for a con­sol­i­dat­ing 2017-18.

“There will be a lot of farm­ers mind­ful of the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons and keen to get their books back in bal­ance,” he said.

“In many cases this sea­son has given farm­ers a chance to catch their breath.

“Ev­ery­one in Vic­to­ria’s crop­ping area is ex­hausted – not only farm­ers, but ev­ery­one work­ing in the grain in­dus­try.

“The re­sult is that many small com­mu­ni­ties will ben­e­fit from the year and hope­fully that will pro­vide the whole re­gion with an up­beat vibe.”

Mr Jochinke said the grain har­vest was all but fin­ished in the Mallee and some north­ern Wim­mera farm­ers had yet to strip odd pad­docks in­volv­ing lower-value crops.

He said south­ern Wim­mera grow­ers were close to fin­ish­ing or had more to do depend­ing on when they sowed their crops and grain farm­ers south of the Great Di­vide were now full-swing into har­vest.

“I sus­pect by the time we hit Fe­bru­ary ev­ery­one should have pretty much ti­died up what they’re do­ing,” he said.

“It’s been a tough, long sea­son.” SCHUBERTS PEST SER­VICES Ph: 5382 7484

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