Farming in Focus Winter 2020


SILVERMERE HOLSTEINS Optimising fodder production

JEFF SELLARS Wickham Flower, Naracoorte

AGRONOMY UPDATE The rainbow ride continues!


of Silvermere Holsteins. Colin owns and manages a dairy in Central West NSW. He is a true gentleman, has a positive attitude and runs an excellent business. I really enjoy working with farming families and am committed to designing and building tough, durable machines suited to our Australian conditions. Wherever you are, I hope the season is kind. Bill Larsen Sales & Marketing Manager K-Line Agriculture (L-R) Vince Cudden, Warhringah Partnership, Wellington, Tony Lucas (AEH Group), Rob Williams (K-Line Ag) and Paul Cudden in front of the Cudden’s new Speedtiller. To be used for weed killing (Macquarie Pea) and primary tillage.


The last 12 months have been a roller coaster for us all. As an industry, many have experienced the lows of drought only to move into a pattern of higher than average rainfall in 2020. Whether it be in the tough times or the good times, it never ceases to amaze me how buoyant and supportive farmers, dealers and manufacturers are across our industry. Unfortunately, WA and QLD are still to get the rainfall they need for their Winter crops. We are hopeful that their season improves so that they can also enjoy a better season in 2020. Now that winter grain crops are in, many farmers are taking the time to catch up on other jobs and considering their plans for the year ahead. There is never much downtime. During these cooler months cane farmers and vineyard managers,

have been focused on improving their beds, eliminating weeds and preparing their soils, and they too are appreciating the Winter rainfall. Similarly, vegie, dairy and livestock producers are all experiencing much softer growth conditions with an abundance of feed. We’ve noticed a rise in interest for K-Line machines, no doubt due to above average rainfall and the promising weather outlook, along with the $150k instant asset tax write off and the availability of low finance on Speedtillers. It’s a good indication of industry optimism. In the last couple of months, I’ve been fortunate to work closely with farmers in the Livestock, Dairy and Cotton industry to ensure our machines continue to meet and adapt to their needs. I recently had the pleasure of spending time with Colin Thompson

“We use a lot of direct drilling now. Strip tilling with our corn and direct drilling with our cereals. Lucerne is one crop that we do prepare a really fine seed bed for.”

FODDER IN FOCUS Silvermere Holsteins, Cowra NSW

Upon entering Callara, the property owned and managed by Colin and Erina Thompson of Silvermere Holsteins, it quickly becomes apparent just how well this business is run. After what has been a long few years of drought, the paddocks are green with crops, the bunkers full with silage and the cows are healthy and happy. Located between Cowra and Gooloogong in Central West NSW, the Autumn break has been reassuring with rainfall above average. Given the challenges very familiar to all dairy farmers, the weather, milk prices, irrigation water availability and feed prices, this year’s seasonal break has been very much appreciated by the Colin and Erina. “320 cows are milked, three times a day, every day of the year at Silvermere. The cows are housed in a free stall barn. “We breed all our heifers and raise all our bull calves, we have cows calving every day of the year,” said Colin. The Thompsons produce about 5 million litres of milk each year which is sold to Lion Dairy and Drinks. It is then used for the Dairy Farmers brand and for a lot of the flavoured milks like Dare Iced Coffee. Silvermere Holsteins is a very professional and meticulously run business. They place a lot of focus on animal health and balancing that with efficient and productive systems. They have developed ways to help mitigate against risk to help get through the challenges that are outside of their control. Their careful planning and management of fodder production is reflective of this.

Colin is always looking for ways to create efficiencies and increase production of fodder, the Fodder crops include, Corn, Lucerne and cereals. Careful planning and management of these crops is critical to the success of their business. We’ve found the Speedtiller by K-Line Ag to be a really great machine. It leaves the paddock very level, often it’s only one pass and it’s a prepared seedbed. The Speedtiller is a great machine for doing a very fine and level till. The Speedtiller certainly reduces the time it takes to prepare a paddock and we can convert a stubble paddock into a Lucerne field in very quick time. They are an exceptionally well-built machine, an ideal machine for a very fast and level cultivation,” said Colin.

“Lucerne is one of our main feeds. We harvest Lucerne as silage for the early parts of the season then through the summer months we cut hay. We often sell a lot of that hay because we grow a surplus of feed. This helps us guarantee we have a surplus of feed during dry times, which has been critical in recent years. Our other main crop is corn. We grow corn over the Summer which is harvested for silage and stored in concrete bunkers. This is one of our main forages for the cows. The other crops we grow are cereals (Wheat and Barley) that can be either cut for hay, cut for Silage or we take them through for grain,” commented Colin.

Watch Silvermere Holsteins video online:



Jeff Sellars is a Salesman at Wickham Flower in Naracoorte and has been there for the past 10 years. Jeff worked as a Diesel Mechanic for 12 years previous to that at a couple of other Ag Dealerships. Naracoorte in South East of SA has reliable rainfall which enables it to sustain various farming industries, these include livestock production/ grazing, cropping, horticulture, vineyards, dairy and tree plantations. “In my job I like that there is such a variety of machines and implements we deal with and that a fair portion of my time is spent out of the office on location with the owners and operators and being able to work with them face to face,” says Jeff.

“I like that the Speedtiller in particular is so universal we have customers using them for so many different applications, whether they are using them conventionally for broadacre or pasture preparation or if its deep soil tillage before planting or levelling off seed beds after planting in horticulture. We have also got customers using them to convert country back to productive farming land from being used in the timber plantations.” “In the Dealership we work with quite a few machinery manufacturers. Working with the K-line team is always positive they are very honest and willing to help and listen, if there is ever an issue you can speak directly with the person who can help or knows the answer.”

“I really enjoy selling and promoting K-Line products because you know that it is built strong and to good quality, and that it is field proven so you are confident that it will last and do the job it is meant to.”

JEFF’S TIP Do your research and talk to other farmers, they will always tell you the pros and cons of their machines and what works and what doesn’t, but most important is to buy where you can get good service and backup.

Above: Jeff Sellars, Wickham Flower and Lachie Seears from Boonderoo, Lucindale SA


MITCH SMALL, AGRONOMIST, MR SMALL AGRONOMY It’s extraordinary to think where we were in late January (and for some into March) compared to what opportunities we have now and moving forward. The rainbow ride continues for unprecedented dry matter production and plant growth for this time of year. Certainly, for the younger generation, it’s difficult to compare the current season to a similar year.

Drought scars from the last 3 years are still evident in some bank accounts, so too in degraded pastures full of weeds – at least some of the older generation may stop referring back to 1982! The good operators that remember 1983 are probably fit to comment and compare the turn around witnessed this year to back then. As many have struggled to balance their feed inventory with livestock, and capitalise on revenue making opportunities (albeit at a level of risk), others are dodging wet areas and completing final post emergent sprays. Challenges this year are of a different kind as we are challenged to manage many facets of farming business albeit in a different form. It is interesting how different organisations view the world through a different lens and understand years such as this are significant in terms of farm profit contribution over an average of years. We must take into context the extraordinary seasonal conditions however voices continue to echo regarding sowing windows. Matching cultivar with sowing time and a planning to graze in line with the animal production calendar are important decisions. No point sowing in mid March with the only stock class to graze in June being spring lambing ewes! Monitoring pests and diseases Monitoring pests and diseases in

good seasons is just as important as ever. Aphid pressure in 970 Canola has been observed in most areas and pressure will need to be monitored closely to avoid using insecticides unless of commercial benefit. Russian Wheat Aphid reports are somewhat concerning in main season cereals, their presence in our dual purpose crops if entering now would not have the impact of an earlier existence. A new stripe rust pathotype 198 has been observed in both Wedgetail wheat and Illabo (to name a few). With heavy crop canopies and mild conditions increasing to warm, we will need to be vigilant with fungicide protection when applying broadleaf sprays after lock up.


• Aphid pressure in 970 canola

• Russian Wheat Aphid

• New Stripe Rust pathotype

• Prepare now for Spring planting

• Monitor green bud development for a better handle on lock up timing • Undertake deep N soil testing to validate top dressing requirements

year it’s a particular challenge as we contend with growth stages ahead of time. 970 and long season canola residuals at lock up are important. There is a strong correlation between plant biomass and yield when at flowering. Crops that are locked up mid July can have lower residuals (ie < 12-1500 kg / Ha), however these residuals in early to mid August are not favourable. Farmers should monitor green bud development for a better handle on lock up timing.

Nitrogen – Undertake deep N soil testing to validate top dressing requirements. Alternatively consider that yield potential is basically satisfied at stem elongation in cereals, applied nitrogen from this growth stage will more so target grain protein. Tiller numbers this year are staggering, therefore there will be obvious short comings in protein if not addressed in wheat. Consider paddocks (NOW) that will enter farming rotations or clean up phase in late 2020 or 2021.

Tips for the coming weeks NSW Tablelands clients, if not already, should be preparing for spring planting. Organising soil tests and understanding lime and fertiliser requirements should be complete at this stage. Various pasture and fodder crop seeds may be in short supply, early commitment and procurement is recommended. Understand crop phenology and the effects of over grazing dual purpose crops is highly valuable. But this



$120K +GST



$86K +GST



STAFF SPOTLIGHT Matt Gillespie Production Fabricator, K-Line Ag

K-Line machines are well designed and well built. I haven’t used one personally but have met some very happy customers. The only bad thing about my job is the climate control!! In Cowra, the summers can get quite hot and the Winters quite cold. The heat in the workshop in summer gets up to 45 degrees and on some Winter mornings it gets down to about -3degrees. When not working I enjoy the outdoors. Camping, four wheel driving, motorbike riding and spending time with my daughter and partner.

I started at K-Line with very little welding experience as a 1st year apprentice and have now been with them for two and a half years and am in the third year of my apprenticeship. My day starts really early! I get up at sparrowfart and start work at 5am, I usually finish at 5.30pm, with a couple of breaks throughout the day. I have been lucky to do my apprenticeship with K-Line, in my home town of Cowra. I always have plenty of work, good work colleagues and very approachable management team. The hours are flexible and suitable to my needs. Everyone is considerate and friendly to work with.

My joke of the week Who can drink 5L of petrol without getting sick? Jerry Can

Matt at work on the frame of a 12.5m Speedtiller Powerflex

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DEALER NETWORK K-Line Ag products are sold under the K-Line Ag name in Australia and New Zealand through our existing network of Case IH, New Holland and selected independent dealers. If unsure who your nearest dealer is call us on 1800 194 131

Ph: 1800 194 131 +61 (2) 6340 0400

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