Crusher takes pride of place

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Kyal Wellstead is "pretty stoked" after receiving 30mm of rain at the weekend.

The 20-year-old Tambellup farmer, who works alongside his father, Rod, and brother Sam, 17, will be seeding 1800 hectares of canola, 600ha of wheat and 100ha of oats this year.

Last week, when _Countryman _ visited Kyal, the final checks were being put in place for a start to dry seeding.

But now it's rained, he said they would wait for a germination and knockdown before they started this week.

"We're putting in all Crusher TT for our canola rotation this year," Kyal said. "A lot of people grew Crusher last year near us and compared to their hybrids, had a similar result.

"Last year we grew Beacon and Thunder and the Beacon averaged 300 to 400kg higher. We've tried Thunder for three years but it's never really worked well for us but Beacon has been good."

After canola, the Wellsteads will put in wheat.

"Last year we went half Mace and half Calingiri, which averaged half a tonne more than the hard wheat," Kyal said.

"So this year, we are still a bit undecided but are looking to go with hard because of demand."

For the oat program, they will sow Wandering which will be all used on-farm for sheep feed.

In the next couple of years the Wellsteads are looking to increase their sheep numbers from 5000 to 8000 head.

To do this they are going to cross half of their Merino ewe base with Dohne rams and keep the ewe lambs in the system. The rest of the Merino ewes will be crossed with Poll Dorsets.

One of the biggest changes to this year's program is a reduction in machinery which has allowed them to upgrade.

They have traded in seven pieces of machinery and purchased four, which has reduced their need for contractors.

A New Holland T9-670 4WD tractor, from McIntosh and Son in Katanning, is one of the first for the Great Southern and replaces a Case 535 4WD.

It will be used to pull a DBS 46-foot bar, which they have had for four years, and a 12,000-litre Simplicity box, bought in 2006.

They also traded two swathers - a self-propelled Case IH 2303 and a Case IH 8230 tow behind 30ft - and a Burando Hill tow behind 120ft sprayer with a 5000-litre tank.

Two headers, a Case IH8010 and Case IH1688, were traded for a New Holland 8090 with a 40ft front.

Kyal said that during swathing they would now be able to use the front from the header, which has spray lines, on a new 120ft (36m) Nitro 4365 boomspray.

They also bought a variable rate, 8.5-tonne spreader from CGS in Kojonup which will replace a contractor and be towed by a Case IH MX 230.

"We are reducing our gear because we just don't have the man-power to run it all and, in turn, it's reducing the number of payments and is a win-win for us," Kyal said.

It also means the Wellsteads have one less headache in trying to find staff and train them from scratch.

"It's much easier to get one person to do a simple job and we can concentrate on the jobs we are good at," Kyal said.

"We also sold a Volvo 565 eight-wheeler because we found it hard to justify our own cartage compared to a high quality service like Cropline.

"We kept our other truck and trailer, a Kenworth towing a Duraquip tornado seed/fertiliser bin from Gnowangerup, which is fantastic for on-farm cartage at harvest which dad does."

At seeding, Kyal said his father and brother would drive the tractor and seeder and he would look after spraying.

They will also have a full-time helper picking rocks.

"We should be able to do around 200ha a day with a 24-hour shift, so it should take 12 to 15 days to get everything in," Kyal said.

Consolidating the machinery also created an opportunity for them to go contract spraying and spreading.

And at harvest, Kyal said that with his brother driving the chaser bin, he in the header and contractors carting grain, his father would be able to focus on grain marketing, on-farm cartage and seed cleaning.

Fast facts *

_WHO: _Rod, Kyal and Sam Wellstead, Billabong

_WHERE: _ Tambellup

_WHAT: _Cropping and sheep

_RAINFALL: _475mm

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