Farming In Focus Winter 2022


SPEED COUNTS Ben Harris, AB Contract Farming, NSW SOIL COMPACTION Agronomist Dean Hamblin SEEDS OF SUCCESS Peter Burey, Kenway & Clark, NSW


3445P ThunderRipper ® in action


Local and world events have created a mixed bag. As all the states open up and travel plans are full steam ahead, it is wonderful to be able to enjoy things that we once took for granted. Although COVID is still a threat, it feels that we are all learning to live with it; yet we are being cautious and being optimistic that further future variants are less dangerous and that we are through the worst of this pandemic and life across Australia is looking much brighter. Across the other side of the world and yet still influential here; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has challenged agricultural commodity markets. Fertiliser, grains and especially oil prices have all seen large increases in prices and production uncertainty. The fertiliser index was up on a year-on-year basis in February, and 119% compared to the same time in 2020. The invasion of Ukraine has particularly caused problems with global grain markets. Russia and Ukraine produce around 27% of global wheat exports, this challenges already mixed overseas growing conditions and low global

stocks, this makes high volatility conditions. On a positive note; the recent budget took place against a generally reasonably strong two years for domestic agriculture, but with emerging challenges around trade disruptions. Seasonal conditions since autumn 2020 have generally been excellent, resulting in record crop production, combined with generally excellent commodity prices for many sectors. Some of the key measures to come out of the Federal Budget: • $61.6m for biosecurity infrastructure • $20.1m for on-farm biosecurity • $20m for pest and weed reduction • $15.4m for agricultural shows and field days • $12m for trade events • $6.6m for the AgMove program Winter seeding is near complete throughout both the Eastern States and W.A. wheat belts with a large portion of the Canola seeding now complete. All southern regions have a full profile of subsoil moisture.

Wishing all readers a problem free seeding season and hoping that your equipment is reliable and that your preparation pays dividends for you. I have outlined highs and lows, but like they say proper planning prevents poor performance and I am confident that your diligence towards your seeding season will be well rewarded. Glenn Soper General Manager Seeding and Tillage, CNH Industrial


Ben Harris from AB Contracting says the results from his K-Line Ag Speedtiller ® are like a giant reset for his customer’s paddocks.

Ben Harris, AB Contract Farming

When it comes to clearing and remediating crop paddocks in northern NSW, timing is everything. And for AB Contract Farming, no tool in their arsenal is more treasured than the K-Line Ag Speedtiller ® . Ben Harris leads a crew performing crop clearing services, as well as spraying, spreading, and other remediation work. Based in Rowena and operating primarily around Walgett, Narrabri, and Moree, AB Contract Farming also rove as far south as Narromine in NSW’s Central West, and north to Dirranbandi in Queensland. “Everyone wants everything done straight away, ahead of weather events,” Ben says. “That’s where the Speedtiller comes in handy – we’re able to cover a lot of country in a short space of time. It’s like a giant reset button for a paddock,” Ben says.

“We’ve put the Speedtiller through hell and back, it’s done some incredible things. We’ve been in country that’s more or less a jungle, and when we’re finished it’s back to square one.” Much of the company’s work is remediation of wheat fields, and also “a little bit of irrigation” on cotton farms. Ben says the Speedtiller excels at stubble management, and also does a great job breaking up compacted soils.

“We have a few rules we live by – be on time, take the time to do the job properly, and always be honest. Never promise something you can’t deliver,” Ben says. A vital part of keeping the company promise of high-quality results is to have up-to-date, well- maintained and fully supported equipment. AB Contract Farming began sourcing K-Line Ag tilling equipment from Kenway and Clark in 2017.

his company’s greatest expenses, Ben researches each new equipment purchase extensively, and says price is only one factor. “For us, it’s worth paying extra for something that’s efficient, well-built and durable, because ultimately it pays for itself,” he says. His team also looks to learn new or improved techniques at every site they visit. “You’re able to see at first hand how others utilise their country, and it’s made us better at what we do.”

With machinery comprising one of

In January 2022, AB Contract Farming added a new weapon to its arsenal – the K-Line Ag TrackAttack ® , a unit designed to level entrenched wheel tracks. “The farmers are loving it. The TrackAttack doesn’t seem to put a furrow over the wheel track, it leaves everything nice and flat,” Ben says. “And 99% of the parts are the same as the Speedtiller, so that saves us money too.”

Soil Resistance Testing following Picking

SOIL COMPACTION; A DARK CLOUD LOOMING OVER CROP PRODUCTIVITY Seasonal Overview The 2021’22 season gave us above average rainfall, milder temperatures then experienced over the past 5 years and high then average achievable yields allowing us to push boundaries and shift expectations. However, what has it left us with?

Potential Issues from the Season While most Farmers and Agronomists enjoyed the favorable climatic conditions afforded them this year it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Due to the labor shortages, and the need to be more efficient in farm operations we have seen a shift towards larger, heavier machinery to overcome the problems faced in the agriculture industry over the last 10 years. While at a farm management level it has been beneficial what is happening at the soil level? Are our soils seriously under threat? When pickers and combines were lined up along paddocks ready to commence harvest this year the weather decided to play devil’s advocate. With above average rainfall (150-200mm compared to the average 50-100mm), the forecasts continuing in a La Nina cycle and commodity prices holding well growers were forced into making a tough decision to push limits with harvesting while soils remained wet (close to Field Capacity). Questions on the Mind • How are we going to turn our country around for next season? • Will we get our winter crop in? • Do you think compaction following this year’s harvest is going to impact next year’s yield potential?

Agronomist Dean Hamblin - Tillage Radish Barley Cover Crop

These are just some of the questions being asked by

wetter year (pictured right). A penetrometer (pictured over) can be used to determine the resistance of soil at given moisture level and depth. So, I decided to get out the old penetrometer and do some testing. I determined at a soil depth of 20 to 50cm there was resistance ranging between 550-700 psi across wheel tracks suggesting moderate to severe compaction down to a soil depth of 30-40cm. Adjacent furrows without traffic ranged between 250-400 psi. Research has shown that soils with a resistance >300 psi would limit root growth (Hamza and Anderson, 2005), which would have a potential impact on the following crops production. The question that many need to ask themselves this year if they are in the above situation, what is my realistic yield potential and how do I manage my crop to that expectation?

Agronomists and farmers across the industry. Many researchers, organisation’s and industry members have been conducting work in the areas of soil health and the potential consequences of soil compaction in our farming systems with the use of larger and heavier equipment whether it be a harvester or tractor. Compaction is on the mind of a lot of growers who are trying to increase long- term farming sustainability while remaining profitable as costs driving production continue to rise. Compaction For most of us, compaction is the result of exerting downward force onto the soil to the point of reducing the pore space and pressing soil particles tightly together generally, but not limited to heavy machine traffic. This effect is exacerbated by trafficking the soil at its plastic limit (nearing field moisture capacity). Consequences As a result of compacting the soil, particularly in the top 30-40cm of the soil profile, infiltration and drainage is reduced, aeration is lost, soil strength increases reducing the ability of plant roots to penetrate the soil profile (Antille et al., 2016). In effect reducing the available bucket of water and nutrition for our crops to grow. After checking behind pickers and assessing some of the common practices undertaken following harvest with deep rippers and center busters, the soil doesn’t look pretty. Aggregate sizes are large (10-30cm diameter), very hard and cakey. Rippers to a depth of 40cm have pulled smeared slabs of soil to the surface, questioning how effective this method of compaction reduction is given the

Twin Row Tillage Radish Barley Cover Crop

option is possible and potentially more feasible in a zero to minimum- tillage farming system it has a harder task of being implemented into the irrigation farming systems due to cost and management practices undertaken. Mechanical cultivation through deep ripping to depths of 40-60cm, seems to be the choice when it comes to irrigation farming for most growers, however, is this process while giving short term gain leading to a bigger issue into the future by reducing aggregation, damaging the microbiology within and increasing soil strength. Should a biological pathway be taken, growing rotational crops of varying species with different rooting structures, abilities to penetrate the changing soil strength. While providing the added benefit of changing and increasing the micro/ macro biology of our soil types for example the use of Canola, Faba beans, wheat, barley, sorghum and maize, to better manage compaction. As seasons present themselves more growers are starting to have the discussion about shifting towards growing cover crops whether it be single or mixed species. Over the last few years mixing tillage radish with barley and planting it in twin rows (200mm either side of the plant line for the coming summer cotton crop)

Alleviation Possibilities

Our soils have the amazing ability to naturally ameliorate themselves given time and appropriate weather through shrinking and swelling as they go through wetting and drying cycles. However, these 2 external factors as we all know are currently the most limiting in our farming systems. Reports show that severe compaction issues can naturally ameliorate over a 5 year period, however in a irrigated- intensive farming system, practices, time and economics make this a rare possibility. So, what are some of the possible options to aid us in reducing the impact soil compaction is having on its health? Control Traffic Farming (CTF) has a good adoption rate through the dryland farming systems within Australia, proving to be effective in limiting compaction to a smaller proportion of our farming land to increase productivity of the un- trafficked areas. However, while this

as featured above, has been showing promise for early establishment and crop vigor. Is having a strong tap- rooted species to aid in mitigating subsoil compaction (Research from USA) while a fibrous root system species to aid in surface compaction, soil structure and increase soil organic matter in the top 30cm an advantage? While there are many questions being asked and hopefully potential solutions discussed, I believe there will be answers in time to help alleviate the issues associated around the operation of heavier machinery in our farming systems, while trying to increase long-term farming sustainability. I also strongly believe that there is a time and place in our farming systems to combine and utilise all potential options listed previously to increase profitability and sustainability. We just need to work on the processes and adoptability of each for the varying

management practices surrounding irrigation farming systems. There are a variety of excellent mechanical tools on the market today that have been designed to combat compaction in soils and one such machine available now to growers is the range of Rippers from K-Line Ag. K-Line Ag’s range of deep Rippers are designed to shatter sub-soil compaction with minimal disturbance to the upper or surface layers of the soil, efficiently combatting your compaction issues. K-Line Ag’s deep Rippers can benefit plant growth while creating excellent opportunities for an even crop and high yields. Although there is no magic silver bullet to compaction issues and no single solution that covers all compaction requirements alone, with careful management, strategic planning and the right equipment, growers can mitigate these issues and better manage compaction for greater profits and environmental benefits.

Re-hilling behind Deep Ripping Compaction



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to Goondiwindi in Queensland in the north, with Moree as its headquarters. “It’s the richest agricultural land in Australia, for sure,” he says. The farm on which he was raised ran cattle but also planted crops including chickpeas, cereal, legumes and nuts. It’s indicative of the varied uses to which his customers put their land today, including many broadacre operations prepared to invest in machinery that is built to thrive in conditions that can swing from drought to flood and every extreme in between.

A mainstay of Kenway and Clark’s product line throughout most of that time has been K-Line Ag’s range of tillers, rippers, harrows and more. “When they started manufacturing, K-Line Ag really looked at a niche in farming that was all about efficiencies and the ability to be able to get across the country quickly and to do a very good cultivating job,” Peter says. “Reducing the amount of chemical usage is obviously where there’s a major benefit, and what K-Line Ag brought to the industry. So it’s been a natural extension for them.”

Peter Burey, Kenway & Clark

As a young man, Peter Burey departed the family farm between Moree and Goondiwindi to apply for a job as a salesman at local agricultural machinery retailer Kenway and Clark. The 19-year- old could never have dreamed he would one day become the business’s owner and general manager. Or that over 40 years later, Kenway and Clark’s territory would take in a massive slice of rural Australia, stretching from the Victorian border in the south

Peter Burey and his award-winning team.

increase in the size and output of machinery, resulting in greater efficiency. “We used to have an old rule of thumb back in the ‘80s where for every 1,000 acres that you’d farm you’d have 100 hp (worth of) tractor. So it wouldn’t be uncommon to have 4,000 acres of farm and you’d have a 400 hp tractor,” he says. “These days you’re probably talking about 100 horsepower per 7,000 acres, so it’s introducing our customers to those sorts of efficiencies that has been the most exciting part of Technological advancement also presents opportunities to farm smarter. “Technology can sometimes be there for technology’s sake. But if you take a look at GPS steering, for example, that’s actually made such a massive impact,” he says. the whole journey.” Technology

Efficiency A major evolution in broadacre farming has been the significant Peter’s tip “Do your due diligence. Don’t just talk to the dealer, go and talk to some of the customers who are already running it. Make sure you take a good, balanced view of what you’re looking at, because cheap doesn’t always mean good.” For anyone thinking of updating machinery, Peter has a few choice words of advice. “Get in quick, the laws of supply and demand are really working well at the moment!” he says.

“So there are always going to be opportunities. My sales guys need to be really on top of what the next trend is going to be, and to get in front of the curve.” Customer support Peter says he has always enjoyed the support he has received from K-Line Ag. “They’ve always been very easy to get along with. It’s all about dealing with Australians farmers who understand Australians farmers,” he says. “They’ve spent quite a large amount of their time out in the field, perfecting their product. And if they do find an issue where it doesn’t necessarily meet the grade, they very quickly go and make those repairs and make it more of a robust product.”


Welcome to the team!

Arun Thomas, Production Engineer. I work as a production engineer here at K-Line Ag. My role includes tasks such as fixing, checking and approving engineering drawings. I provide support to the R&D department in certain areas such as CAD modeling. I work on updating the bill of materials in the system and also help develop product manuals.



range. The best thing is that NO 2 days are the same. What do you think about K-Line machines? Top quality Australian Built product that is an absolute credit to the whole K-Line Team. What is the best thing about your job? The people! From the amazing manufacturing team we have at K-Line, to dedicated staff at each and every Dealership we work with to the farmers who use our product… it’s a perfect circle. What is the worst thing about your job? Roadhouse food.

How long have you worked at K-Line Ag? 8 Weeks Tell us about what a normal workday looks like for you? Wake and put the coffee machine on. Have a brief look at my calendar for the day if I am working from the office head into the office and start the day speaking with sales teams at various Dealerships and also find out what is happening with production etc at the factory. Or if I am on the road, start the day the same way, but then head into the Dealership and assist with anything they have got going on, possible sales calls with their rep or heading out to do some demo’s or doing in-field start ups with new purchasers of the K-Line

My joke of the season Waiter – Excuse me Sir, how did you find your steak? Customer – I looked next to my potatoes and there it was!

What do you like doing in your spare time? Play golf (26 handicap) badly.



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

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

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