A WILLINGNESS to think outside the box is giving Wagin farmers Ross and Carol Goldsmith more profitable returns from their oilseed break crop.
They're growing Monola, a specialty oil canola and by switching their canola varieties, the Goldsmiths have been able to collect premiums of up to $95 a tonne above the market price for canola.
Developed by Nuseed, Monola is sought after for its unique oil properties. As a healthier frying oil which is lower in saturated fat, the demand for Monola is growing in Australia and internationally.
"Growing Monola is exactly the same as growing canola, but with the premium on top we make more money," Mr Goldsmith said.
The Goldsmiths among the first WA farmers to try growing Nuseed's Monola in 2010 and have grown it every year since.
"Last year, the paddocks dried out and the crop just about cooked by September, so our Monola only averaged 990 kg/ha at 42 to 43% oil.
"But it did outyield our standard canola crop by 100kg/ha."
This season the Goldsmiths are switching 100 per cent of their oilseed crop (about 170 hectares) to the latest variety, Nuseed Monola 416TT.
"We've seen the varieties improve so much over the years," Ross Goldsmith said.
"I think these newer varieties are even better than a lot of canola."
Nuseed's southern region territory manager Andrew Royce, said Monola 416TT was comparable with Nuseed's ATR Stingray for yield performance, adaptability and maturity.
"When we combine all the data from last year's National Variety Trials and Nuseed's trials, Monola 416TT produced a gross income of $145/ha higher than ATR Stingray," he said.
Nuseed Monola 416TT is an early to early-mid maturing open-pollinated variety with good early vigour.
"It can be grown in low to medium rainfall zones and offers good adaptability, solid blackleg resistance and improved yields and oil levels," Mr Royce said.
"It's certainly a viable option for a lot of growers if they are looking to pick up this year's guaranteed premium payment of $95/t."
Mr Royce said there was strong grower interest in Monola this year, with several growers joining Nuseed on a tour of the Pinjarra oilseed crush plant earlier this month.
"We hosted a field day earlier this month to give our new and existing Monola growers a look through the crush plant," he said.
"It was the first time Ross and Carol had been through the plant after all their years growing Monola and we had another dozen interested farmers attending as well."
Mr Royce said growers would need on-farm storage after harvest as delivery times for Monola were limited to January to March.
At the moment, Pinjarra is the only site Monola can be delivered in WA.
"Early in the new year is a good time to deliver grain and pick up a backload of fertiliser or lime, so the timing suits a lot of growers," Mr Royce said.
The Goldsmiths hard work each year helps their crops achieve high yields and every paddock needs to earn its keep.
"The crops are planted with starter fertilisers, plus at cabbaging stage we spray liquid fertilisers to top up nitrogen, sulphur and some trace elements," Mr Goldsmith said.
The triazine-tolerance helps them combat wild radish.
As harvest approaches, the Monola is desiccated with glyphosate and sulphate of ammonia to help with evenness and then direct-headed.
Mr Goldsmith said their Monola crops had averaged 1.2 t/ha over the five years.
"One year I think we only got half a tonne to the hectare, but the next year more than made up for it," he said.
He added that when they could deliver seed with oil levels above 42pc, they received the same oil bonification as canola.
As well as winter cropping, around half of the 950 hectare property is devoted to pasture for the Merino Poll Dorset-cross lambs.
'Glenhar' has been in the Goldsmith family for more than 90 years.
With an annual average rainfall of around 300mm, they have had a good start to this year, with some parts of the farm already receiving 120mm of rainfall.
This means they will target yields of up to 2 t/ha in Monola.
"We're looking forward to a better season than the last," Mr Goldsmith said.
"We like a bit of summer rain to store moisture under the ground and now all we need is a top up at planting time."
They have their seed ordered and the airseeder will be out and ready to go any time from Anzac Day.
"In my experience Monola is as easy to manage as any other TT canola variety and you get paid more for it," Mr Goldsmith said.
For more information on growing Monola this season, contact your local Nuseed reseller or visit www.nuseed.com.au