BRETT Fowler points to feeding the world's growing population as an adequate reason for WA farmers to produce GM canola.
After year-in year-out rotations of export hay, malt barley and canola Mr Fowler and his family decided it was time to look into GM technology to combat weeds.
In the 2010/11 season he grew 650 hectares of canola of which 340ha was GM varieties and the rest TTs.
His family planted a mix of GM varieties which included Pioneer's 46Y20, Pacific Seeds' Hyola 601 and an open pollinated line from Canola Breeders at a cost of about $300+/ha.
As a result he harvested and stored 300 tonnes of GM seed and 120t of TT.
"I wanted to trial hybrids against open pollinated and TTs just to get a bit of an idea about their performance," Mr Fowler said.
"I only needed to achieve a maximum of 100kg/ha to get the money back which was spent on Roundup Ready technology and I was pretty confident we'd do that.
"If we didn't, I was pretty confident the weed control would be worth it and in the end it out yielded TTs and the weed control was excellent."
Mr Fowler's theory was to move into GM with all his guns blazing.
"Why fluff around the edges," he said.
"I don't want to wait until I've got weed problems and only have one tool left to deal with it, I'd rather go in now and clean the program up.
"I want to go in all guns blazing and knock the weeds for six then we can reassess after that."
Mr Fowler said hay was also a major tool in his crop rotation but it was his confidence in the technology that was the real benefit.
He said he'd much prefer to have confidence in GM varieties and utilise it as a broadacre program because growers wouldn't gain anything by growing a small amount.
Mr Fowler's long-term canola yield average was about 1.9t and had since dropped to about 1.2t in the last five years.
He said the 2010/11 season was a difficult period to get a handle on GM varieties because the seasons played such a big role in determining such things.
His GM canola averaged .85t but his TTs only went .55t so he was still 30pc-40pc in front.
"I'm most concerned about the hybrids," he said.
"They grew as much bulk in a poor season as we would normally grow in a good year so I'm a bit worried that in a good season they might put all their energy into that and not put it into yield.
"That's the only thing that could bring us unstuck."
Mr Fowler would probably increase his planting of GM canola next season to 850ha and drop his TTs back to 50ha.
Although all his canola's oils performed strongly he still direct headed 85pc of the program which had a large impact on the result on both yield and the oils.
"But to do that you need confidence because it's a lot of money swinging in the breeze," he said.
Mr Fowler didn't see a marked price difference between GM and non-GM canola.
Despite being a GM convert he supported the development of a non-GM niche market for WA growers.
"The people who are anti-GM tend to be more concerned about our problems regarding Roundup resistance than their own," he said.
"I've got absolute respect for people who don't want to have anything to do with GM but I don't particularly like them trying to decide what approach I want to take to farming.
"If people are against having any kind of GM material on their farm I can see their concern surrounding the tolerance levels to a small degree but I do think co-existence is absolutely achievable to keep that percentage to a minimum.
"To a degree it's unfortunate but people might have to get over it because we have to feed the world."
Mr Fowler used the same fertiliser package on his GM canola and his TTs which included MacroPro Boost as a compound, 18-20 units of phosphorous, 80-90 units of nitrogen and 50-60 units of potassium.
"I make a big effort to try to knockdown with something other than Roundup," he said.
"I used a Sprayseed and Trifluralin knock down and then the two Roundup Ready sprays.
"The TT package is now very sub-standard."
He said the difference between a GM or conventional system and an organic system was that it was a more recognised version of the standard conventional farm.
"We use the usual inputs that we'd love not to use but it's frustrating that the overall interpretation of someone who farms like we do is that we have a choice," Brett said.
"But we don't.
"If we want to stay in business we have to farm the way we're farming."
He said an organic grower might disagree with that but they would need to change their way of thinking because GM crops were becoming more relevant in large-scale modern agriculture.
"If we all went to organic farming then we'd all be out of business," he said.
"Organic farming is a niche market and that's great and I hope they can sustain that market.
"We farm in a style that we've been channelled into over the years because it's a profitable style of farming.
"You have to keep up with modern farming techniques and it would be nice if some of that attitude came back our way at some point instead of people who aren't growing organically being treated as if they have no care in the world." Farm Weekly grains writer BOBBIE HINKLEY spoke to a GM canola grower, a conventional grower and an organic grower to compare the three operations and to hear their thoughts on future plans for each system. Follow the three articles online this weekend over Friday February 25, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27.