KOJONUP farmer James Heggaton is only half way through his harvest program and expects a January finish to the season.
Despite purchasing two new CLAAS headers this year to speed up his 8900 hectare program, things haven’t gone to plan yet due to unfavourable weather.
“It hasn’t really been too hot that we could just crank into it,” Mr Heggaton said.
“With more than 50 per cent of our program to canola, it’s a bit slow going.”
When Farm Weekly recently visited he was halfway through the canola and was impressed with the way the CLAAS Lexion headers were performing.
After purchasing more land this year Mr Heggaton said the new farm was seeded to canola to clean it up and get it into shape.
This has been the biggest canola program the family has taken on.
After the canola is done, they will move onto 2000ha of wheat and 1000ha of barley which should take them into January.
Mr Heggaton said they had already harvested 120ha of Faba beans which went well.
“They averaged 2.8 tonnes per hectare and we sold them for about $800 a tonne,” he said.
Trialling 20ha last year and adding 100ha more this year, Mr Heggaton has found a solid market for the beans.
“We get a lot of value out of pursuing Faba beans as they put a lot back into the ground,’’ he said.
“We really need half of our program as a break crop, which is mostly canola at the moment, but hopefully more beans in the future.”
Mr Heggaton said it was about adding more diversity and getting on top of weeds and grasses in pulse crops.
He said the break crops help improve nitrogen and increasing biodiversity.
This year they also harvested 40ha of lentils, but they seem to be challenging in the Kojonup environment.
“All-in-all everything we have done has yielded quite a bit better than we anticipated which is great,” he said.
Mr Heggaton said it would be interesting to see how the wheat quality would go after the weather they have had.
“We have had three decent rain delays so far and we hope we don’t get too many more,” he said.
Mr Heggaton said 12 people worked on the harvest program, and 20 staff were inolved with their pellet mill and sheep breeding program.
“On the farm side, it’s six full-time workers and six casual workers,” he said.
With 75pc cropping and 25pc prime lamb production, Mr Heggaton said it was a great time to be in the industry.
“The profitability is the best it has ever been with grain prices and the sheep industry,” he said.
“It’s been nice to get some runs on the board early and given me a bit of confidence in what I’m doing.
“You don’t want to get knocked back a fair bit when you are starting out.”
Mr Heggaton moved onto the farm full-time two years ago after studying at Marcus Oldham College, Victoria.
He runs the farm with the help of his mum and dad, Liz and Craig Heggaton.
“I picked these two farms up this year and it has just been a great expansion opportunity for the business,” he said.
“It was challenging around here to get bigger, but we are keen to keep pushing it.
“But I don’t know how much expansion we will be doing in the medium term with the land prices around here at the moment going crazy.”
Mr Heggaton said they introduced complete controlled traffic farming when he completed school.
“We have been working on it for the past four years but now everything lines up,” he said.
“It’s been really good and it’s challenging around here with the smaller blocks, but we make it work.
“It’s still early days with this being our second year with fully-matched controlled trafficking but we are seeing plenty of agronomic benefits so far.
“It’s one of those things that as time progresses, the soil responds more and then we will add deep ripping and soil amelioration into that.”
Mr Heggaton said it should be a winner in terms of water use efficiency.
He said by lining up their wheels, they hope they weren’t making compaction worse.
“But we probably need to deep rip in the system just to bust the compaction layer and keep the wheels off it,” he said.
“I think it might be a bit daunting for people, but it’s just a matter of staff training, discipline and sticking on the tram lines.
“We like it now for the simplicity.”