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Mixed-farming shields Riverina property from full brunt of tough seasons

August 31, 2016

justineveritt

Justin Everitt in a paddock of barley stubble prior to canola seeding last year.

Riverina farmers Justin Everitt and father Jim have found running a variety of crops as well as sheep can reduce the impact of weather-related issues on their business.

Their typical program at 1000ha Gerogery property “Moeraki”, as well as leased country at nearby Brocklesby, includes 250ha of wheat, 250ha of canola and 250ha of barley, and 2500 Merino-cross sheep for wool and meat.

Last season was a good time to have investments in multiple agricultural sectors, as the hot, dry spring pinched yields in cereal crops across Southern New South Wales.

Crops in the Riverina were exposed to extreme heat conditions throughout the flowering period of October, with a National Variety Trial (NVT) site at Gerogery recording temperatures as high as 35.9C during the month.

“We had a good start and a tight finish.  It was very dry in September and October,” Justin said.

He said the grain harvest in late-November was variable, with oilseeds up and cereals down.

“The cereals went pear-shaped but we managed good yields in our canola.”

The average yield for wheat was 3.5 tonnes per hectare, while canola was 2t/ha.

He said they generally grew open pollinated triazine tolerant (OP TT) varieties, but two varieties surprised him last season – one a hybrid TT and the other a dual-purpose graze and grain Clearfield hybrid.

“It was the first time I had grown Hyola 559TT, and it yielded 2.6t/ha on the toughest part of the paddock, so I’m confident in its future here.

“The other variety was Hyola 970CL, which was another new addition.  We had 20 days of grazing at 150 head per hectare, which was outstanding.  We then stripped the grain and ended up with 2t/ha and 42.5 per cent oil.”

Mr Everitt said the wheat and barley was mostly targeted at the domestic livestock feed market, while the canola was grown for the food oil market, fodder for the sheep, and as an integrated weed management (IWM) tool.

“Wheat is still the major cash crop, but canola is growing in importance for our operation.

“It provides us with good income if yields and oil content are high enough, you can use certain varieties for both grazing and grain, and it breaks the cycle of weeds and root disease in cereals.”

He said the IWM benefits were of increasing importance due to the pressure ryegrass and wild radish has put on herbicides.

“We rotate herbicides and have tried windrow burning, but if we’re still having major problems, we use a pasture phase.”