THE Mullewa Community Farm recently completed its first harvest, with the 2.66 t/ha yield exceeding expectations and generating an estimated $60,000 for local sporting, youth and social clubs.
The farm was established last year to provide a new source of community funds following the closure of the Tallering Peak mine in 2014.
"Our community has been extremely fortunate to receive public benefits from Mount Gibson Iron for many years but it was coming to an end," local farmer, Peter Barnetson said.
"Sporting, youth and social clubs play an important role in every community but they are fighting to stay afloat.
"I've worn lots of hats over the years and I know how hard it is to keep small clubs going when you are all relying on the same, declining source of income.
"There are only so many sausage sizzles and cake stalls you can have.
"By comparison, the farm should generate a profit of $60,000 for distribution by the Mullewa Community Trust management committee each year.
"This year, we will also have enough left over to pay for next year's crop."
Following consultation with the community and approval by the City of Greater Geraldton, the Mullewa Community Trust signed a five-year lease on a 275ha block, four kilometres west of the township.
Farming operations are supervised by a cropping management committee.
Volunteers provide their machinery and time, with crop inputs provided by local suppliers at a discounted rate.
"Everyone is more than happy to do their bit," Peter said.
"We had 17 people at one working bee and it's good fun.
"Some farmers drove their tractors and machinery more than 30km to come to help us with sowing, spraying or harvesting.
"We are also very grateful to all the other people that have helped us with inputs and other costs, including Mullewa Farm Supplies, CSBP, the local fuel distributor and machinery dealerships."
Among them was CLAAS Harvest Centre, Geraldton, which provided access to its CLAAS Lexion 770 combine harvester, with TERRA TRAC tracked assembly and a VARIO 1350 variable cutterbar.
According to Blake, the header was earmarked for a demo with a local grower who, astutely, suggested it would be good to see the Lexion take off some of the community crop.
The LEXION and five locally-owned harvesters made short work of the 270ha crop.
Because CLAAS was first out of the blocks in publicising this event so Torque doesn't mind adding some of Blake's comments about the number of improvements to the cooling, grain separation, residue management and electronic control systems in the 770.
These include an automatic crop flow control that monitors the rotational speeds of the engine, the Accelerated Pre Separation (APS) threshing mechanism and the twin longitudinal ROTO PLUS rotors.
"If belt slippage occurs and the engine load peaks, the cutterbar is automatically shut down, significantly reducing the likelihood of blocking the machine," Blake said.
The demonstration machine was fitted with a six cylinder, 436kW (585hp) MTU Tier 4 engine.
Vale Ian Bolto
FORMER Farm Machinery Dealers Association (FMDA) president Ian Bolto, who passed away earlier this month, was one of WA's most passionate and energetic machinery dealers.
The son of Peter Bolto, who started a machinery agency in Katanning in 1951, selling Morris cars and Nuffield tractors, Ian was also involved in real estate as a licensed valuer, like his father.
He started life as a machinery dealer selling Massey Ferguson tractors in the early 1960s when Peter Bolto & Co gained the Massey franchise.
Later, in the early 1970s, the Katanning dealership became the first Versatile tractor dealers in WA at a time when New South Wales farmer Colin Uebergang was importing the tractors and had set up a small depot in Geraldton.
In the quest for more productivity, Ian was always on the lookout for new technology and in the early 1990s became the first WA dealer to introduce the JCB Fastrac tractor to the State.
He was a familiar exhibitor at the Dowerin machinery field days and did an outstanding job promoting the features of the JCB to a wide audience of farmers throughout the State, such that JCB franchises were quickly snapped up by other dealers.
Ian also was an active member of the FMDA executive, serving two terms as president, while also serving his community as a Katanning shire councillor for 16 years from the early 1980s to 2002.
As a licensed valuer, he also managed a successful real estate business with his wife Leonie and son Cameron.
AFGRI appoints new managers
JOHN Deere dealership group AFGRI Equipment this week appointed three new branch managers.
Former McIntosh & Son Geraldton branch manager Brad Forrester takes over at Carnamah, James Whitehurst heads up the group's Pingelly branch while Tom George takes the Wagin branch.
The appointments fulfil a promise made by AFGRI in August to continue to build its staff numbers and provide career pathways.
The company, which officially acquired Greenline Ag in August to bolster its WA dealership network to 11 branches, is keen to promote the farm mechanisation industry.
The company's operations director Gollie Coetzee has signalled the company wants 11 apprentices for its January intake to match its 11 branches.
And AFGRI's plans will not be gender-biased.
"We see opportunities for everybody," Gollie said. "Females can work as service technicians, in sales or in precision ag because that's part of our career pathways program."
It also is AFGRI's intent to liaise with Muresk and agricultural district colleges to promote its apprenticeship program.
"We want to go back to grass roots sales and servicing so people see us as a strong and committed company providing quality products which we can back up with skilled people," Gollie said. "And now we have 11 branches we are in a position to pool our resources when required.
"We want people to know we are moving in the right direction in this industry."