Positive outlook after ‘rollercoaster’ season

Rueben HaleThe West Australian
Nyabing farmer Braden Johnston says using CBH fertiliser has helped to improve the farm's profits in a tough season.
Camera IconNyabing farmer Braden Johnston says using CBH fertiliser has helped to improve the farm's profits in a tough season. Credit: Rueben Hale

Nyabing farmer Braden Johnston is hoping to have a slightly better than average season, after taking a “rollercoaster ride” to get there.

Mr Johnston, who farms with wife Kate, said they watched their 3100ha barley, wheat, canola, lupins and oats crop come back from the brink several times after almost no rain in April and June caused a false start to the season on two occasions this year.

This year they planted 980ha barley, 860ha wheat, 860ha canola, 240ha lupins and 190ha oats, alongside 3000 Prime SAMM sheep.

“We started seeding in the middle of April into dry ground, but there was plenty of moisture very close,” Mr Johnston said.

“The day after we finished in late May we received 30mm of rain, which joined everything up nicely. The first crops appeared at the same time.”

Mr Johnston said the false starts had made the season one they’d rather forget.

“The subsoil moisture left some areas wet and others dry. The canola was the worst impacted by the season,” he said.

“We also have a farm down south, and we watched the crops come up and die numerous times. All of a sudden the plants there are looking healthy again.

“It wasn’t just having to watch crops die and then come back which was causing frustration for us, but also having to feed sheep so early in the season.”

Mr Johnston said the heavy rainfall in July and August meant they were now expecting a better than average crop and plenty of feed for the sheep.

“By the end of June feeding sheep was stacking up to be a costly exercise for the farm this year,” he said.

“During the dry months we grazed the sheep on barley for a couple of weeks, and we also had quite a bit of chaff piles on hand, which saved us a bit of money.

“The early rains gave us a lot of extra feed, but by June the dry conditions had made things challenging.”

Mr Johnston said they sold 825 weaners at an average of $140 a head to WAMMCO last week.

“There is not much pasture around this year, so we’ve already got the next line of lambs in the feedlot, with the balance fattened for sale early next year,” he said.

Mr Johnston also said their decision to use CBH fertiliser had paid off in a tough year.

It is the second season Mr Johnston has used a customer blend fertiliser from CBH’s Kwinana facility.

“The product has been good for us with each granule was coated with zinc, which meant we had no dust or blockages,” he said.

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