Father and son’s 4000km journey to find the right seeding gear

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Corrigin father and son team Connor and Paul Baker.
Camera IconCorrigin father and son team Connor and Paul Baker. Credit: Countryman

A 4000km journey to buy seeding gear has ended and the cropping season has started for father and son Paul and Connor Baker, who are farming together for the first time.

The Corrigin pair are branching out on their own after an amicable succession plan saw them split from family and take on 2000ha.

The move has 25-year-old Connor back on the farm full-time after years of working on other farms and in mechanics.

He is working side-by-side with his father, who has farmed at Corrigin his whole life, and his mother Adair Joyce-Baker.

It’s been a cracker of a year to start their farming journey together, with more than 150mm of rain during the past few months. That has already put them ahead of their total rainfall in 2019.

“It’s been much wetter than the past few years, that is for sure,” said Paul, a third-generation farmer.

“We have had really no summer rain during the past two years, which is good from a spraying point of view but you are better having rain — even if you have to spray.

“We got 38mm to 48mm in a trough in March and then 29mm to 32mm a few weeks later.

“Last week’s 75mm has made it so much better.”

Corrigin father and son team Connor and Paul Baker.
Camera IconCorrigin father and son team Connor and Paul Baker. Credit: Countryman

Connor and Paul had plenty of time to talk about their plans while they spent two months searching for the perfect seeding equipment to start their new journey.

They covered thousands of kilometres attending clearing sales from Geraldton in the Mid West to Jacup in the Great Southern.

“We didn’t buy anything at either end,” Paul laughed.

“It was about 4000km over the two months, and as soon as we bought something we set about finding parts to get the ball rolling.”

Connor said he and his father knew what they wanted — a tractor, bar, box, truck, trailer and auger.

“We were looking for the right gear, at the right price,” he said. “We were picky and used our farm consultants and neighbours as a sounding board.”

Connor said he and his father had to laugh when they discovered the seeding bar they bought was 46 feet wide — not 40 — after looking at so many. They settled on a DBS seeding bar with 10-inch spacings and a 2500-litre liquid tank on the front and set about installing a liquid system by LQS systems in South Australia.

We were looking for the right gear, at the right price

Connor Baker

A Challenger MT975B tractor, Bourgault 6700ST box, an Iveco Power Truck, a trailer and a Grain Commander 51 10 auger rounded out their purchases.

“It has actually been pretty fun to go out and find our own seeding rig,” Connor said.

Improving the property’s non-wetting soils is on their to-do list, with plans to put a Reefinator across 20ha and use a homemade plozza plough across parts of the farm.

Their plozza use was spurred on after a day out with the WA No-Tillage Farming Association last year, where they saw a plough in action.

The Bakers started seeding oats on April 28, before moving on to lupins, barley and wheat. About 350ha is in the ground so far.

The program includes 130ha of Bannister oats — to mitigate frost risk — as well as 580ha of Jurien lupins, 600ha of Planet barley, and 700ha of Sceptre and Cutlass wheat.

Australian Grains Technologies’ new Clearfield variety Hammer is being tested after Connor won a tonne of seed at a Corrigin Farm Improvement Group event last year.

He bought another two tonnes to fill out a 60ha paddock with the variety, promoted as the highest-yielding AH Clearfield wheat variety for WA growers.

Corrigin father and son team Connor and Paul Baker.
Camera IconCorrigin father and son team Connor and Paul Baker. Credit: Countryman

Connor completed a mechanic apprenticeship with Hutton and Northey Sales in Corrigin in 2017 before spending a harvest with the Ayers family at Cascade.

Connor moved home to Corrigin to work at AgWest in 2018 and under sales manager Dave Dutton learned a “whole lot” about business and mechanics.

But after spending last year working for Wagin farmer Sam West, he knew farming was where he wanted to be.

“Dad is still the boss,” he laughed. “He has been farming for such a long time and has so much experience. He knows his way of farming, and I have some new ideas. We challenge each other.”

Paul said he was enjoying having his son home.

“We get on well, we bounce off each other. And I can always say no. But it has been great to have him back,” he said.

Paul said he and his brothers sold all their sheep about 10 years ago — when the price increased to $100 a head — to focus on cropping.

With a boomspray and a header already on the farm, the Bakers are hoping for a bumper harvest.

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