Three keep it simple for Craig

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Craig Brooks lives and farms by the ‘KIS’ principal — keep it simple.

Along with wife Jo and three young children, he farms three properties within a 30km radius, north of Lake King.

Over the past decade, Craig and Jo have worked hard to expand from 2200 hectares to 5000ha of which they crop 4800ha a year.

To make seeding, spraying and harvesting easier, the focus is on block plantings of legumes, canola and cereals.

“We’ve got our paddocks set up now so that there are not many fences and when you get to one property you can get straight into putting in 1000ha, ” Craig said.

“I’m not keen on coming in and sowing 200ha and then going somewhere else to put in another 200ha. I’d rather stay on one property and keep the cropping in blocks.”

Craig’s rotations mean one property will be in a legume and canola phase while the other two are in cereal phases.

Last year on Mufflers, just north of the home farm, Craig planted 700ha of peas and 200ha of canola.

“This year we planted 300ha of Tanami canola at home and 500ha of peas, so we don’t have to pack up the truck and seeder — it makes it much easier and you’ve just got to keep it simple.”

On the home farm, 270ha of Wyalkatchem wheat was sown as well as Mundah and Yagan feed barley.

The rotations used included canola, wheat, barley and peas or peas, two wheat crops, barley, peas and canola.

This year Craig started seeding canola dry on May 12 and was planning to put in 500ha but pulled back due to dry conditions.

The first of the wheat was sown on May 21 and working 24 hours, the program was sown by June 5. With a workman, who was spraying, and two tractor drivers, Craig said they were able to put in 280–300ha a day, or 140–160ha a shift.

A 60-foot Morris Maxium III bar with a Morris 370 bushel and a 3800-litre liquid tank pulled by a New Holland T9060 535 horsepower tractor were used.

“Our crops are shaping up not too badly, ” Craig said.

“Things have slowed up a lot because it’s got cold, but I’m pretty happy how things look at the moment. Some of the earlier wheat looks good.”

On Mufflers, Craig has planted 400ha of Hindmarsh barley and 950ha of Yitpi on a canola and pea stubble with the focus on controlling brome and ryegrass problems.

At Proctors, which is 11km north of the home farm, 650ha of Clearfield Stiletto, 270ha of Gairdner barley and 380ha of Vlamingh were sown.

All the cereals were sown at a rate of 60–65kg and canola at 4kg/ha.

AgFlow Trace was applied at 70kg/ha along with 55 litres/ha of Flexi-N during seeding and the wheat was given a fungicide treatment.

Craig recorded 100mm of rain in January and February, seven in March, nine in April, 20 in May, 22.5 in June and 47 in July until the 21st.

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