Loan tractor overcomes seeding supply chain squeeze for Shayne Smith, Dongolocking

By Mal Gill
May 8 2022 - 12:00am
Shayne Smith, Dongolocking, has started his canola seeding program using a Versatile 620 Delta Track tractor loaned to him by the dealer in place of the New Holland T9.670 he ordered during seeding last year, which he expects to be delivered this week.

DELIVERY delays and long-lead order times for farm machinery are all too real for Shayne Smith, Dongolocking, north of Dumbleyung, who expects to take delivery of his new New Holland T9.670 tractor this week.

Last week he took delivery of a Seed Storm 18-300 air drill seeder bar, manufactured locally by Duraquip at Gnowangerup, which he put to work immediately behind a loaned tractor to dry seed about three quarters of this season's canola program ahead of forecast rain.

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He is still waiting on a delivery date for a dual-cab Toyota LandCruiser ute ordered 18 months ago and two HiLux utes ordered about five months ago.

"We ordered the tractor and bar in the middle of seeding last year so it's been an 11 or 12 months wait," Mr Smith said late last week.

Both the big 453 kiloWatt four-wheel-drive tractor on dual wheels all round and the 18-metre seeder bar were ordered through McIntosh & Son, Katanning, agents for New Holland and Seed Storm among many other brands.

"We've bought quite a lot of gear through them," Mr Smith said.

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In a family operation, he farms with wife Clare and his brother Lee and Lee's wife Michelle at Dongolocking and with another brother Troy and Troy's wife Carly on a nearby property east of Narrogin.

"We knew there would be a wait for them - we're aware of the problems the dealers are having getting new machines and the shipping issues and all of that - but it still came as a shock after being told it would be February delivery, that it was extended out to April-May," he said.

Circumstances dictated that once the new equipment was ordered there was little Mr Smith could do but accept he would have to wait.

"The old seeder bar had done a lot of work and it was time for an upgrade," he said.

"Thinking we would have the new bar by February we stripped the old one.

"We still had the bare bar but it wasn't operational for this season.

"We were also busy cleaning up and getting Narrogin back in order (the Narrogin property was affected by the Narrogin-Wickepin bushfires in February, including the loss of about 650 of the 5500 Merino ewe flock on that property) and didn't have the time to rebuild it.

"Our old tractor (a 2012 Steiger 550 with about 6500 hours on it) blew the transmission in the last 15 hectares of our seeding program last year.

"At least we had just about finished, it could have been a lot worse if the transmission had let go at the other end - right at the start."

The new seeder bar finally arrived on the farm the weekend before last.

Mr Smith said he was told the delay was due to difficulty sourcing some components and a consequent late build start.

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After shipping and port delays, his new tractor - built in the United States - had arrived at McIntosh & Son, Katanning, the day before Farm Weekly spoke to him last week.

"They'll PD (pre-delivery checks and adjustments) it and I should have it by this time next week," he said.

Because the Dongolocking farm has only received 58 millilitres of rain since the start of the year, Mr Smith said he had been keen to get his canola program started to take advantage of residual soil moisture from a decent shower about a fortnight ago and ahead of more rain forecast.

The full seeding outfit being used to sow this season's canola program on the Smith family farm at Dongolocking a borrowed tractor, their existing Ausplow Multi-stream air cart and their week-old Seed Storm 18-300 air drill seeder bar.

He said McIntosh & Son, Katanning, had loaned him a Versatile 620 Delta Track tractor so he could get going on his seeding program last week using the new Seed Storm, after starting seeding canola with a smaller tractor and seeder bar brought down from the Narrogin property.

"There were two of us waiting on tractors so McIntosh loaned us a Versatile and a Caterpillar so each of us could get started," Mr Smith said.

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He has put in about 1500ha of canola so far, with lupins to follow and some vetch for sheep feed, before starting on his cereals program.

Shayne Smith (second right), with Duraquip director Garry Robinson (left), Gnowangerup, Shayne's father and brother Ken and Lee Smith and Jai de Lacy, Nungarin, in front of a new Seed Storm 18-250 air drill seeder bar at one of its first demonstrations last June during a McIntosh & Son, Merredin, machinery field day on the de Lacy property.

"We're very happy with the way the new seeder bar has performed so far," he said.

"McIntosh have been great right through this, the delays were because of factors beyond their control and there was nothing they could do about it.

"They kept us informed of what they knew and then loaned us a tractor when we needed it.

"I think the lesson from our experience for other farmers is that when you order new equipment, you need to have a contingency plan, just in case."

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