It’s been a season of all or nothing at Matt Lloyd’s Newdegate farm, where significant rainfall events have been few and far between but have delivered up to 80mm when they have occurred. The-Lakes District farmer welcomed the top ups but wished the vital input could be spread out a little more evenly this year. However, he acknowledged the importance of run-off rain in topping up farm dams, especially after deficits of not so long ago when the area experienced a great dry. “In 2020 our dams were dry. In early 2021 I spent half my time carting water: I have never seen it so bad,” Mr Lloyd said. Mr Lloyd said that this season’s crops were looking promising, despite the fact that early rains were not followed up by any significant falls until late May, when 80mm cascaded from the sky during a four-day period. “The dry seven weeks leading up to May caused a few issues,” Mr Lloyd said. Then the rains came and the decision was made to stop the tractors and wait for drier seeding conditions. Heading towards the 2023-34 harvest after the best year he had ever experienced on the farm, the third-generation Newdegate farmer said that it had been necessary to reseed some of the cereal crops. “It is a long way to go yet, but some of the crops seem to have lost their vigour a bit because of the wet conditions, but I would rather have it that way around than the other,” Mr Lloyd said. Mr Lloyd farms with his wife Stephanie Clarke-Lloyd, and farm manager Quinten O’Neill. With a workload shared between them, they run sheep and crops north-west and south of Newdegate. This year’s cropping program included 700ha of canola, 240 ha of field peas, 1350ha of wheat and 1300ha of barley. Field peas are a regular inclusion in the rotation due to the nitrogen boost they give subsequent crops, but the appearance of the bright-yellow flowering oilseed amid the green is a first on the Lloyds’ farmland. “This is the first time in 20 years that we have grown canola, but with the weed issues getting worse, we have included it in the rotation to enable more effective chemical control,” Mr Lloyd said. Use of clethodim after strategic grazing was seen as a way of getting the feed benefit of rye-grass while controlling it. The Lloyds run a flock of 3100 Merino andirst-cross Merino-SAMM sheep, enabling diversity and making the most of clovers and other legumes sown to boost nitrogen. And while rainfall distribution and timing has caused a few headaches this year, one of the biggest threats to farming in the area still loomed large: frost. “We have already had a few frosts,” Mr Lloyd said. While there was nothing that could be done to avoid its arrival, with the cold crispy mornings very much a feature of the local climate, seeding was being delayed in an effort to avoid the worst. “We seed a bit later, and I think that does help. It’s a game of risk and reward. “If we go early, and we don’t get frosted, we might do well, but we might not,” Mr Lloyd said. Mr Lloyd said that despite the ups and downs that went with good and bad seasons, he was happy with his decision to come home to the farm after boarding school and studies at the Muresk Institute of Agriculture. His home town is also home to the Newdegate Machinery Field Days, which served as a reminder of what could be achieved by those in WA’s regional areas. And with a new generation keen to continue the legacy of their parents and grandparents, Mr Lloyd said that there was a changing of the guard in the field day’s organising committee. Mentored and supported by those that manned the gates on the first ever field days, younger community members are assuming responsibility for the landmark event. And one of those taking on the mantle of leadership is Stephanie Clarke-Lloyd, who is being prepared for a future role at the head of the organising committee. “She will serve two-years as vice-president, but that is where she is headed,” Mr Lloyd said, with a sense of pride in his voice. He said that Mrs Lloyd had a background in marketing and promotion and thrived doing such work. “The field day event feed on itself. The community looks forward to it and works together to make sure it happens,” Mr Lloyd said. “We are all keen to keep it going. “It brings us together and, along with the community cropping project, brings money back into the community,.” With the influx of people returning to the community after years away living different lives, the Newdegate community is certainly proving its ability to attract the youngsters it needs to keep it perennially young. And strong, despite the timing of the rains.