Mat to go with the break flow

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Early starts are the norm for the Freeman family who farm at Eradu.

Third generation farmers Mat and his wife, Helen, are on the land 10km south of Eradu with their son, Tom, and daughter Grace. They also have blocks at Mullewa and Walkaway.

This season the family started with Cobbler canola on April 17 and had most of their canola program in by April 21.

The family sowed 500 hectares of canola, with the remaining land going to wheat, barley and lupins.

Mat said he had loose plans for his crop this year but that could change depending on how the season broke.

"We will start off with 500ha of canola and depending when it rains, we will swap to lupins or go onto barley," he said.

"We are starting on the yellow sand which is easier to get something up on."

The Freemans farm on 80 per cent sandplain and 20 per cent red loam.

Mat said he would try mouldboard ploughing for the first time this season to help germinate their wheat crop.

A practice recently trialled in the northern agricultural region to tackle non-wetting sands, mouldboard ploughing involves inverting the soil to bring wetter ground to the surface.

Mat said the method could also help with weed control by changing the soil profile.

The Freemans went out of sheep in 2007 because of the dry seasons they experienced.

Mat said last season was one of their best, especially on the red country.

Despite rain at harvest, the Freemans achieved a reasonable quality wheat crop in 2011.

They sowed this season's Cobbler canola at a rate of 5kg per hectare with 90kg of K-Till Extra.

Mat also purchased some Snapper canola to sow for the first time this season.

The family sprayed summer weeds before seeding and plan to spread nitrogen post-seeding.

Mat said the farm had not received any rain this year, so any soil moisture would be very deep.

"We had three inches of rain at harvest, which would have created some subsoil moisture, but that would be very deep," he said.

Mat said that the harvest rains germinated a lot of summer weeds, which he had sprayed out in November.

The Freemans have not yet grown genetically modified canola because they don't believe it is suited to their country.

Fast facts *

Who: Mat and Helen Freeman

What: 5000ha mixed crop

Where: Eradu

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