NICK Jenzen has always dreamed of being a farmer.
Growing up on his family’s 5000 hectare broadacre farm at Cunderdin led the 20-year-old young gun to develop a strong love for the land and the farming lifestyle.
“Being on the farm, I always had the freedom to roam around in open spaces, whether that is taking the motorbike out for a ride in the paddock, helping dad move some sheep or sitting on the tractor for a few hours and annoying dad – I’ve always loved it,” Nick said.
When he finished high school Nick was quick to start travelling with the hope of challenging himself and building on various skills, as well as broadening his agriculture knowledge.
His travels started with a week-long trip to South Africa and then a month-long sailing trip back to Australia from Cape Town on the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme.
The voyage aimed to increase self-awareness, develop teamwork and leadership skills and create a strong sense of community responsibility.
“There were a lot of team building exercises, from learning how to pull sails in, to navigating the boat and everything in between,” Nick said.
“It was a fantastic experience and I would encourage anyone to give it a go because the people I met and the things I learnt were invaluable.”
A few months later, in July, 2016, Nick embarked on his next adventure, this time with a focus on agriculture.
Travelling to Canada to work for a harvest contractor for three months allowed Nick to experience and learn from a farming operation completely different to what he was used to.
“It was good to see how agriculture differs in another country and on such a large scale and I wanted to bring those ideas back to our farming enterprise,” Nick said.
“It was very different to over here because water wasn’t an issue with the rain they get from the Rocky Mountains – the biggest issue was getting the crop off.
“Because the farms are large scale operations, their approach to weed control wasn’t as big of a priority, which was something vastly different from what we consider a key element in our cropping program.
“One of the most valuable things I learnt was about the machinery I operated and how their (Canada’s agriculture) supply chain works with most of the grain being stored in on-farm facilities and a small amount being delivered to local grain elevators.”
Nick’s most recent trip was attending the CBH grower study tour in Vietnam in July, 2017, which involved him and other growers taking part in the official opening of the Intermalt facility.
Nick said he didn’t know what to expect before the CBH trip.
“I was optimistic about it because everyone was dad’s age or older and I definitely got a lot out of it, particularly talking to other growers, hearing what they were doing, how they do things and their experiences,” he said.
“I like the chance to be able to meet people, not just farmers but other people associated in the agriculture industry, such as CBH directors and board members – just being able to meet a broad range of people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met.”
Still in the early stages of learning from his father, the 2017 growing season was the first time Nick had been back on the farm full-time.
Their 2017 cropping program was 2500ha to wheat, 900ha to canola, 120ha to oats for hay, 300ha to lupins, with the remaining 1000ha to barley.
“It’s been good to start getting involved more with dad and learning the fundamentals of running a farming enterprise, not just manual labour but also the programing side of the business,” Nick said.
“Dad is still the boss and I’m second year into about a 25-year apprenticeship.
“He has taken me under his wing to show me how he does things and we make decisions together but dad still has the greater say.”
From his schooling and travels Nick has been able to bring some new skills and knowledge back to the farm, but he said there was always more to learn.
“Some of the different things I used to do on school holidays, particularly with hay and driving hay balers, so when we started our hay program, I was able to use what I had learnt,” he said.
“Driving the headers in Canada, I got quite familiar with them and they are the same machine as what we operate, so I picked up a few tricks of the trade, but I’m still learning and I’ll be learning for the next 60 years.”
Nick has found there is a lot of interest in young people wanting to work in the agriculture industry and he said networking with other young people and more experienced people in the industry was really important in the early stages.
“For most people who grew up on a farm that I went to school with, farming has always been viewed as a lifestyle job and most of my friends have either gone on to study agriculture at university or chosen other pathways in agriculture,” he said.
“It’s important for young people to get out there and meet as many people as they can – go to agriculture events such as the WANTFA (WA No-Tillage Farmers Association) days and field days.
“You might not learn a lot, but even if you learn one thing or end up having a chat to someone, then it is worth it in the end.”