Farming In Focus - Autumn 2023



We’ve got a job to feed the world

Y ou’d struggle to find a farmer who considers their work ‘just’ a job. But for South Australian hay and grain grower Gavin Schuster, it’s an honour to create primary produce – perhaps even a calling. “We’ve got a job to feed the world,” he says. “We’re at the start of the food chain. When you look at a grain of wheat, what you harvest, and follow that right through to a piece of bread on the table, and see how many people that employs, it’s just incredible. When you think about that, we’ve got a very, very important job in the world.” Schuster is the leader of a multi-generational farming family that could yet span seven generations – if his grandchildren grow to share his passion. It seems a good bet, as they’re the children of Schuster’s three sons, all of whom grew up on the long-held family farm and still live close-by, helping to run the 2600-hectare plot in Freeling, 60 kilometres north of Adelaide. “Keeping the next generation excited is the future of farming,” Schuster says. “There’s always something different to do on the property. That makes it exciting. It’s not a factory job where you’re doing the same thing every day. There’s always new challenges, and every year is different. That’s good for encouraging the next generation.” Growing up on the farm himself, Schuster succumbed to its irresistible draw. “Farming, agronomy, all that sort of stuff, is all about experience,” he says. “That’s why I think multi-generation farms can be quite successful, because of the fact that the knowledge is passed down through the generations.” He and his sons run an operation which produces a range of hays – about 50% of which are exported – plus a variety of food

cultivation we get on three degrees, which I think is the first pin. And maybe we might get a bit of a germination with that. “And then it’s just simple things like chopping up long lentils and stuff like that. I think it’s going to be good for that, because it cuts it in six-inch long pieces, so it’s perfect for what we’re after.” Like the Speedtiller, the Trashcutter® is able to get across the ground more quickly than many other comparable machines, at rates of up to 16 to 18 km/h. “So that’s made us a lot more efficient,” he says. Speed counts for more than just efficiency. “What’s the difference between a good farmer and a bad farmer? About a week,” Schuster quips. “It’s all about timeliness. It’s critical to farming today. You miss something by a week and you’re history. That can be with fungicides, fertiliser applications, or anything. We’re always looking for new technology in equipment. Doesn’t matter what type of equipment as long as it helps us to improve our timeliness.” There have been remarkably few dramas with Schuster’s growing K-Line Ag fleet, but minor issues have always been quickly addressed by the local South Australian dealer, Ramsey Bros., or by the company’s headquarters itself, based in Cowra, New South Wales. “I’ve always been able to get on to the K-Line guys over at the factory, if I can’t get hold of a dealer here,” Schuster says. “Overall, we haven’t had any issues with them. You ring them up and they organise the parts and get them across. “The strength of the machine is what it all boils down to. That gives us the timeliness, as well as longevity.”

staples including wheat, barley, canola, peas and lentils. He describes the Freeling district as a “blessed” location, with generally reliable growing conditions and good yields. His first machine from K-Line Ag was a nine- metre Speedtiller® Powerflex, purchased six years ago and still going strong. “The quality and strength of the build is unbelievable. It’s over-engineered, which is good for longevity, so you don’t mind paying a bit extra. And it’s Australian made, which is another positive,” Schuster says. “We converted from an opposition-brand disc to the Speedtiller, which allows us to get over the ground a bit quicker, around 14 to 15 kilometres per hour. “It gives us more of a level finish to smooth out the paddocks. We’re after a shallow tilling so we can get quicker germination. Over the last few years we seem to not be getting a lot of germination before seeding, so by giving the ground a light till-through and covering the seed that’s on the surface with a bit of soil, we’re getting instant germination on a light rainfall.” Schuster has since purchased a 3.6-metre trailed Speedtiller primarily for wheel track renovation. “I use that one just to rip up and level our wheel tracks, if we have wheel track problems,” he says. “So instead of a wheel track renovator like the TrackAttack®, we just work up the whole 3.6 metres, because we’re only on 2.5 metre wheel spaces.” With his pair of K-Line Ag Speedtillers getting the job done, he recently purchased a Trashcutter®. “We wanted to just try the Trashcutter, it’s the first year and it’s doing a marvellous job with our canola stubbles, and might allow us to not use the Speedtiller quite as much,” he says. “We’re going to see how good a shallow


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