Looking to the future at Warralkin

24 Jul, 2013 02:00 AM
Dane Farina in a crop of Yitpi wheat. Dane said this was one of his more advanced wheat crops. He said it was grown on canola stubble and was holding up quite well considering the tough season.
Dane Farina in a crop of Yitpi wheat. Dane said this was one of his more advanced wheat crops. He said it was grown on canola stubble and was holding up quite well considering the tough season.

IT is no secret that, for more than a few years now, things have been tough in the eastern Wheatbelt.

But travel out past Hines Hill and you will find the farmers have one thing in common, they are resilient.

Warralakin farmer, Dane Farina, is no different.

What is remarkable about Dane is he is only 27-years-old.

Dane farms with his brother Ben and Dane's fiancé Abi Clifford and together they run a mixed cropping and sheep operation.

Since Dane took on the farm in 2008, the eastern Wheatbelt has had its fair share of what can only be described as confronting years.

But according to Dane, 2013 had been the toughest one yet.

"So far, this year has been the most challenging for us," he said.

"It is nearly mid-July and we are desperate for rain.

"Not just for the crops, but also for the sheep.

"We normally have at least some sort of feed for the sheep by now, but this season it just hasn't happened."

Dane said it was the first time he had seen the district look so dry so late in the season.

He said it was because of the recent run of dry seasons that they had started to push their lambing back later in the year.

They now lamb in August when there was normally well and truly more than enough feed.

"It is a little bit worrying because at the moment I am not sure what they are even eating," Dane said.

"When I was planning for the season I certainly did not fathom not having any rain heading into August."

Due to the tight feed situation Dane started selling stock earlier than he normally would to alleviate some of the pressure.

He sold his lambs and dry ewes in the first week in June.

"It was a tough call to sell the dry ewes this year because we have just started with Electronic Identification tagging," he said.

"And while we are still building up our data I wanted to hold onto as many stock as possible, but in years like this I guess you have to make that call."

Despite having limited feed available, Dane said the condition of the ewes was surprisingly good.

He puts this down to holistic grazing management, a tool which he adopted from Allan Savory.

Dane has been using a holistic grazing plan for three years which has allowed him to grow out the density of pastures.

"We are trying to maximise the rest time of the pasture paddocks between grazing," he said.

"It means that the areas that aren't being grazed are building up and becoming properly established."

Dane said the grazing plan had allowed the ewes to hold their condition and he had only recently started supplementary feeding lupins to give the ewes a boost before lambing.

Aside from the large sheep operation the Farinas also plant 5500 hectares of crop.

It is pretty easy to imagine how things are looking out that way and Dane said it had been a confronting year.

They dropped 1500ha off their cropping program towards the end of seeding when conditions were really drying up.

He said it was frustrating after a good start to the season to see things drop away so quickly.

"We haven't seen it look like this in July before," he said.

"If you walk around and imagine it was early June things wouldn't be so bad.

"But we have a few paddocks on the heavier country that haven't even germinated."

The property ended up with 10mm rainfall over last weekend.

Dane said although it was at the lower end of what they needed, it was enough to get them through another few days.

He admitted it was starting to get late in the season but said any rain was a help.

"But we don't really have enough time now to go another 10 days without rain, so we can't afford to miss another one," he said.

He was hoping for another drop on Monday night to keep things ticking along.

Although it had been another tough year, Dane said it was important to keep positive and hope for the best.

But he also said it was important to brace yourself in case the change in seasons was permanent.

"The major problem is that things have changed so quickly," he said.

"A lot of people tell me it will come good, and I am sure we will have good years again, but it's just a matter of how common these dry years become.

"I would like to think it will turn around and we get 10 great years in a row but to be honest at the moment that is pretty hard to imagine."

  • Thanks once again to Central Wheatbelt Imports for its support of the Young Guns series. Every Young Gun who features in Farm Weekly receives a free torch courtesy of Central Wheatbelt Imports. If you think you know a good Young Gun please email their name and contact number to farmweekly@ruralpress.com
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    24/07/2013 7:40:16 AM, on Farm Weekly

    Whilst debt is driving decisions to plant every year despite soil moisture levels, the production model in the Eastern Wheatbelt is 'endangered'. If these guys took the equity boost option from corporatising CBH, more fallowing could be practised and the risk of being a grain producer could be greatly reduced. You can only fallow if you are not up to your eyeballs in debt. Take the self help option boys. Organise a vote on the issue. Time is a ticking, interest is compounding.


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