Digging deep at Bruce Rock

Rueben HaleThe West Australian
Bruce Rock farmers, son Josh and father Kevin Fuchsbichler, say their subsoil moisture remains good despite the dry conditions.
Camera IconBruce Rock farmers, son Josh and father Kevin Fuchsbichler, say their subsoil moisture remains good despite the dry conditions. Credit: Rueben Hale

For the Fuchsbichlers of Bruce Rock, the dry season season has meant they’ve had to dig a little deeper.

Kevin and son Josh Fuchsbichler remain confident they can maintain an average crop this year, despite below-average rainfall for many farmers across the Wheatbelt.

This year they were grateful for a timely 10mm of rain at the beginning of April, which saved them from having to dry seed their 2000ha crop which they are still confident of converting to a 1.5t/ha average yield.

They say their 70ha of lupins, 90ha oats, 900ha barley and the balance of wheat has “90 to 95 per cent” emerged and is looking healthy.

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“We planted Mace because it has been a solid performer for us over recent years and well suits Bruce Rock’s mixed bag of soil types,” Josh said.

“With the barley we planted Scope, and we also put a little bit of La Trobe.”

Josh says the rain has given them confidence after they started seeding lupins in the first week of May.

“In the past we would be going flat out and long with seeding, usually finishing up a couple of days before shearing,” he said.

“These days it is a lot easier and we took our time with me out back with the air seeder and dad heading up with the sprayer.”

Kevin says as each day passes they hope for rain.

“The topsoil here was dry for 50mm, and we had a little bit of rain with the left over of the solid downpour in Perth last week, but I reckon we need 10mm pretty soon to join things up for us,” he said.

“When the season is dry, you have to chase the moisture and we ended having to furrow deep.”

The Fuchsbichlers also run about 3000 Merino sheep, which they say are their biggest concern at the moment.

“I have been hand-feeding trailer loads of grain to the ewes with lamb at foot for a couple of weeks,” Josh said.

“We also had some self-sowing barley and it has ripened, so the other stock is chewing on the that.

“There are also 350ha of barley and oats stubble, so we are in a reasonable situation but if the pastures don’t get water in coming months we will need to review the situation with numbers.”

Kevin says he plans to hand over full operation of the farm to Josh in coming years.

“If Josh decides to run the farm a bit harder and maybe run a feedlot it will be up to him to do the work that is involved with that decision,” he said.

“I’ve never really pushed the farm that direction because I hate dealing with hungry animals.

“I also hate being in a position where I am forced to quit stock if it doesn’t rain.”

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