Fishers hold their breath on late season

14 Jul, 2018 04:00 AM
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Geoffrey Fisher demonstrated how his Reefinator turns the flat rock (left) into gravel (right).
Geoffrey Fisher demonstrated how his Reefinator turns the flat rock (left) into gravel (right).

GORGE Rock farmer Geoffrey Fisher has been flat out spraying recently, trying to get as much done before much-needed rain arrived.

When Farm Weekly visited Mr Fisher two weeks ago he was held up due to a heavy fog that blanketed the Corrigin area before lifting late morning.

Receiving 14 millimetres or rain that week, Mr Fisher received follow-up rain last week with close to 25mm falling in a few days.

Mr Fisher, who farms 2200 hectares with his father Lance, said they had 68mm since seeding started, including last week’s heavy rains.

“It was dry up until May 25 and 80 per cent of our program went in dry,” Mr Fisher said.

This year they seeded 430ha of wheat, 430ha of barley, 261ha of oats for export hay, 100ha of genetically modified canola and 430ha of TT canola.

Mr Fisher said the canola seemed to be lacking and was very patchy this year.

“Everything is later this year and there is a staggered germination of canola,” he said.

“The canola seed sat there for four or five weeks before it even started to germinate.

“Four weeks after the first rain there are still patches that haven’t come up.”

Mr Fisher said his wheat, barley and oats were all up but his canola was struggling.

Crops are worse this year compared to last year because of the dry start, he said.

“We were lucky last year,” Mr Fisher said.

“We got everything to germinate pretty well considering we didn’t have much rain at the start of seeding last year.”

Last year was a good spring, which did some damage to the hay but Mr Fisher said that was OK because they benefited with the crops.

He said another week or two of dry weather and they might not have been so lucky.

Mr Fisher said his dad was running 600 sheep which are lambing.

“I don’t have an interest in them and there is plenty of hand feeding still now,” he said.

“We are letting the clover get away in a few paddocks then we will let them in.”

Originally from Merredin, the Fishers purchased their Gorge Rock block 11 years ago and added another block next door four years ago.

Mr Fisher said it didn’t matter where they farmed, there was always some sort of risk involved.

“We moved here to get more rain but we also get more frosts, so we manage it the best we can,” he said.

“Every year for the past three years we have received some frost damage but it has just varied in the severity.”

Mr Fisher said farming had taught him many lessons over some stressful years.

This season already they lost patches of crop to the wind, but considering how windy it was, Mr Fisher was surprised it wasn’t more.

He said he learnt a big lesson two years ago when damaging frosts hit much of the State.

“I have only been farming for five years and 2016 taught me not to get a head of yourself and don’t get excited and just go buy things before you know the outcome,” he said.

“We poured the nitrogen on then the frost came.

“It’s not good for your mental health, let’s just put it that way.”

Mr Fisher said because the break was early that year they, just kept seeding.

“Maybe if we had held off a bit it might have been better,” he said.

“We try to keep a bit of a lid on the inputs.

“Especially after 2016 where we spent a lot of money and ended up getting bugger all back.”

To help hedge his bets and weigh out the risks of an average season Mr Fisher helps to run a Reefinating business.

“I have been helping to run a Reefinating business for Tim Pannell and I lease a tractor to him,” he said.

“Since we finished seeding I have just been spraying and Reefinating.”

Mr Fisher said it was a good little off-farm business that kept him busy over summer.

A Reefinator turns rock into good arable land which Mr Fisher said increases farm profitability and reduces waste and wear and tear on machinery.

Mr Fisher said he has only just started with the spraying.

“I will go over each paddock at least five times,” he said.

“Normally we would be up to four sprays already but because we didn’t have any rain we didn’t have to put up any double knock downs or anything.

“We just keep coming up with more and more complex tank mixes post seeding.

“You might as well spend lots of money on that boomspray because you are always sitting on it,” he joked.

With an interest in agricultural development Mr Fisher is also involved in a Grain Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) trial.

The GRDC deep ripper trial is on deep clay with orange clay underneath.

Mr Fisher said the GRDC was doing research to see if the yield increases from deep ripping soils that are not normally deep ripped.

The trial depths are at no change, 300mm, 600mm and ploughed.

With an average annual rainfall at 330mm, Mr Fisher said the year still had potential.

“It all depends on what spring brings,” he said.

“Especially with the canola, I think it will struggle if we don’t get a soft finish.”

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Absolutely ludicrous that this is even a thing. Should organic farmers be liable if their farms
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GM crops are a dud. They are stalled, with GM seed markets saturated, and failure to deliver on
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Not sure in what universe Wilson think the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is "an