Bob ends waiting game

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

He might still be waiting for rain, but Bob Iffla is getting a head start on his cropping program.

Last week Bob, who farms with his wife Eileen and son Brad, began seeding 500ha of Mundah barley on his Lake King farm, which will be used as a grazing crop for his 13,000 sheep.

“Firstly, we’re praying for rain but we’re going ahead without rain at this stage just to put some crop in for sheep to eat,” Bob said.

“We’re hoping that when the rain comes it will be up and going and we’ll have some early feed for the sheep.

“Our thinking is we might be able to get a couple of grazes off it and then close the paddock off and harvest it or cut it for hay if it’s a reasonable season.

“We’ve done it over the last few years and we’ve found it a tremendous benefit because once it’s up and growing we can close off some of our other paddocks and let them get away.”

The system allows Bob to clean up paddocks with a weed burden but on occasion, particularly last year, grazing the barley can come with a yield penalty.

“Last year we didn’t harvest it at all, we just left it as sheep grazing,” Bob said.

With 90mm in the rain gauge for the year, dry seeding will continue for the rest of the feed barley, but Bob said he will hold off decisions about the canola until the season unfolds.

“We’ll be listening for the weather forecast and, hopefully, when we hear rain is two or three days off we’ll slip in the canola,” he said.

“We usually don’t get too concerned about the season until after May 15, then after that I’ll make the decision, based on what the season looks like, whether we cut back on any cropping.

“Obviously if it’s well into the end of May before it looks like rain then we’d certainly cut back.

“At the moment sheep and wool prices are very good so I think it would be crazy to go ahead and put all the crop in then starve the sheep and not grow a crop.”

Despite last year’s disappointing harvest, when the wheat yielded just 0.8 tonne and the canola 0.5 tonne, the family is still aiming to grow their average yield.

“We’re trying to grow about a 2 to 2.5-tonne crop,” Bob said.

“All our country is soil-tested every year and so we put on what we think that required amount is for it.

“Really over the years we’ve done a lot of top dressing and fertilising, so our fertiliser history is pretty good.”

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