Farming In Focus - Issue #41





Making the most of the wet


Your Farm, Our Focus



Letter from the Editor

K-Line Ag Gears Up for Seasonal Farming Challenges

W ith the year progressing, a big issue on everyone’s mind is having the right machinery in the shed for the coming seasons. K-Line Ag have scaled up our production year-on-year to meet demand here in Australia and also in the US and South Africa, where K-Line Ag is sold under the Case IH brand and is becoming increasingly popular for seed bed preparation using a combined Speedtiller® and PowerFlex® approach. Our Cowra production line has been able to achieve record outputs for the third consecutive year, thanks to a push to utilise greater efficiency. Yet it’s more difficult than ever to simply walk into a K-Line Ag dealer and walk out with the machine you need. There is still dealer stock around and you might get lucky, but most of our

customers are having to place their order 6 to 9 months in advance. In other words, you should be thinking right now about the machinery you’ll need next year, and speaking to your local dealer to secure a production slot. One advantage in doing this is that in an environment of rising interest rates, CNH Capital will give you the opportunity to lock in a low rate today. There has been good rainfall at the right time in many areas of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia in particular, which should underpin high- quality yields this year. But with a likely El Nino event on the horizon, it’s going to be more important than ever to maintain the moisture profile of soil. In what is expected to be a lower rainfall environment, crop conditioning will be more important than ever using by purpose-built, reliable tools such as the Speedtiller® prior to seeding.

We also tend to see a spike in popularity for our Trackattack® at this time of year – no doubt because of its growing reputation as an essential tool for regenerating wheel tracks in tramline farming. We’re also excited to announce that K-Line Ag will be expanding its export horizons even further in 2024 with a move into the New Zealand market. There’s a lot of commonality between our two countries so we think there’s a huge opportunity for farmers on both sides of the Tasman to enjoy all of the benefits of the Australian made K-Line Ag product. Best of luck to everyone in getting your seeding operations completed.

David Gibson

Brand Leader Seeding and Tillage, CNH Industrial




In high demand Sowing Success in Western Australia

Matt Ward, the owner of Ward Wheatbelt Hire, doesn’t often see his fleet of K-Line Ag Speedtillers®. They’re typically out for months at a time, often passing directly from one customer to the next to undertake a number of essential ground preparation tasks.

F rom the company headquarters in Waroona, south of Perth, Matt and his family supply an array of farm machinery to a vast swathe of Western Australia’s thriving wheatbelt area, stretching as far north as Geraldton, and all the way east to Esperance, on the Great Australian Bight. “We’ve got machines located all around the state and we mostly move them around within their areas,” he says. “So we might only move them a hundred kilometres or so, to the next customer. “From January right through to June, all our machines will be working somewhere. And if not, it won’t take long for them to get snapped up. Come March and April they’re all flat out.” Ward Wheatbelt Hire started in 2002 when Matt began hiring out a super spreader and a chaser bin. At last count,

lot quicker, but you’ve also got to have the horsepower for the 12.” A number of Matt’s broadacre customers have traditionally run a mix of grain crops and sheep farming. The suspension of live sheep exports has put some operations under direct financial pressure, placing more importance than ever on maximising their grain yield. “This is another area where the Speedtiller® has been very useful,” Matt says. “If a paddock’s been mainly in pasture for a few years, it’s a good tool for breaking into the cropping cycle again.” Looking forward, Matt says he is keen to add more K-Line Ag equipment to his line- up. “The last three years have been great, and I’m just waiting to see how this season goes,” he says. “We could go into deep ripping stuff, if the demand is there.”

the business now owns around 30 machines, including five of the Australian designed and built Speedtillers®. Matt says they are always in high demand for their ability to master a variety of soil and weather conditions. “The feedback I get is that they seem to be significantly better built than imported brands that are much more lightweight, which maybe were built more for European farming,” Matt says. “I don’t think European soils are as rocky or as hard as ours, I’m sure their soil has been worked to death, and they also probably get a lot more rain than we do.” Matt initially ran a number of 9.5-metre Speedtillers® among his fleet, and has since added a couple of the 12-metre versions to give his customers more choice. “The 12’s have been in high demand with the larger broadacre farms,” he says. “They’re quite stable, with six wheels on the ground instead of four. They get over the ground a




Making the most of the wet

K-Line Ag’s machines “Pretty much sell themselves!” says Terry Wilcox of Farmers Centre 1978, Lake Grace.

T wo recent seasons of above- average rainfall has Western Australia’s wheatbelt farmers in a buoyant mood. At Lake Grace, 300km south-east of Perth, demand for new machinery is skyrocketing at the Farmers Centre 1978 dealership, where K-Line Ag’s range has been highly sought-after. “We’re going gangbusters with them. K-Line Ag has actually become quite an important part of our business,” says sales consultant Terry Wilcox, after the dealership recently took over the local franchise for Australian- made K-Line Ag products. The unusually wet conditions have not only put much-needed moisture back into the soil, but also a spring in the step of the region’s farmers. “Normally it’s one in 10 years like that for WA, and we’ve just had two in a row,” Wilcox says. “A year or so before that, the dams were dry and people were cleaning them out, which hasn’t happened for about 25 years in this region. Then we had two awesome seasons that should really set up a lot of

farms for the next 20 or 25 years.”

minds, WA farmers continue to stare down a number of other issues, from fluctuating grain prices and rising input costs to cessation of live sheep exports, indigenous land rights, climate change, and even an uptick in mice activity. “There’s a lot going on,” Wilcox says. also enthusiastically embracing technology to ensure they can continue to maximise their productivity. However, his customers are “A lot of the younger generation of farmers coming up now, we’re doing a lot of work extensively with field mapping, getting boundaries in, and farming smarter,” Wilcox says. “We’re doing a lot of variable rate mapping now. That has suddenly come right to the forefront. And machine connectivity, knowing what your machines are doing. “It’s getting a lot more integrated and we’re working a lot closer with our customers to plan services around them, so we’re keeping downtime to a minimum.”

Although sorely needed, the abnormally wet conditions created extra issues for the mostly broadacre farms around the Lake Grace area, such as sourcing heavy-duty machinery to repair washouts. Some also took the opportunity to plant canola, which requires reincorporation back into the soil. As a result, the Farmers Centre 1978 team has been taking orders several months in advance predominantly for the 12.5-metre and 15.5-metre versions of K-Line Ag’s versatile Speedtiller Powerflex®, plus the handy Trackattack® wheel track renovator. “They pretty much sell themselves,” Wilcox says of the popular Speedtiller® range. “You get them to the farm and you’re there for an hour or two, doing a bit of tuning to make sure the machine is tracking properly and the cut is doing what it needs to be doing. Then away you go, and you don’t hear from them again until they need a set of discs.”

Whilst good rainfall has eased many




What is the Future of Glyphosate in Australia?

I n 2017, calls to ban glyphosate in the European Union (EU) by 2022 struck fear into the hearts of farmers worldwide. Commenting on the risks for Australian producers if the EU banned glyphosate, GrainGrowers CEO David McKeon stated in 2017 that such a ban “would have huge ramifications for modern agricultural production systems built around moisture conservation, soil conservation, and efficient allocation of resources. Many farming systems are built around the use of a small amount of chemicals such as glyphosate.” Legal Action While glyphosate is still registered and heavily used in the United States (US), legal action in America regarding the health impacts of glyphosate has created headlines worldwide. According to Forbes. com, as of May 2022, the manufacturer of Roundup, Monsanto, has settled over 100,000 Roundup lawsuits in the US, paying out around $11 billion. Currently, there are still 30,000 lawsuits pending in the United States. The recent announcement of a class action in Australia against Monsanto and its parent company, Bayer, for Roundup-related non-Hodgkin lymphoma casts further doubt over the future of glyphosate.

Dr Harm van Rees, and fellow researcher Anne Jackman, concluded that glyphosate usage is being scrutinised and, in some cases, restricted throughout the world. The study tour visited farmers, agronomists, and researchers in Europe, Canada, and Argentina to discuss issues related to using glyphosate and other farm chemicals, farm practices in general, the political environment, and how farming is viewed by the local and more general community. According to Dr Harm van Rees, without glyphosate, there is no existing answer to how we are going to feed the growing world population. “Conserving water, retaining stubble, reducing wind and water erosion all improve soil health and are achievable using glyphosate,” Dr Harm van Rees said. “Glyphosate also allows farmers to sow at the optimum time. Combined, these benefits radically improve yields. In our current systems, farming without glyphosate leaves our capacity to feed the billions vulnerable.” The introduction of glyphosate in the 1970s allowed farmers to move away from weed control, which relied on multiple deep and shallow cultivations. Instead, farmers were able to retain crop residues from previous crops and adopt minimum or no-till farming practices. According to Dr Harm van Rees, reduced use of tillage in Australia has greatly

Institute of Agriculture, Professor Alex McBratney, Australian agriculture needs to ramp up efforts to implement alternative weed control tactics due to growing glyphosate resistance. In 2020, Dr McBratney raised concerns about glyphosate resistance in Australia and stressed the importance of having three or four different alternatives to glyphosate to reduce agriculture’s reliance on one herbicide. “It’s a bit precarious to rely on a single herbicide, and the sooner we can have alternatives out in the field, the better,” Dr McBratney said. In addition, Dr McBratney raised concerns that “from a purely ecological standpoint, having the world’s food supply dependent on the use of this single herbicide is a fairly dangerous route to go down.” However, the relatively cheap price and ease of application of glyphosate make transitioning away from it difficult, according to Dr McBratney. “The irony is that it allows us to do the agriculture that we strive to do, to preserve water and carbon, but by doing that, we put ourselves in another danger—more of an ecological one,” said Dr McBratney. ‘Farming Without Glyphosate’ Study Tour An international study tour undertaken in 2022 by well-known Australian grain researcher and agronomy consultant,

Glyphosate Resistance According to the director of the Sydney





What is the Future of Glyphosate in Australia? (Continued)

reduced levels of erosion, optimised the timeliness of sowing, reduced fuel bills, and facilitated improvements in soil carbon levels and general soil health. Study Tour – Key Learnings According to Dr Harm van Rees’ research, the intensification of crop production systems, together with an increasing use of herbicides, has a potential human and environmental cost. Over time, public awareness and concern about issues related to farm herbicide and pesticide use in general have increased, with the sustainability of current crop production systems now widely questioned. In some countries, glyphosate use is banned for home and public garden use and is severely restricted on farmland. There is no alternative broad-spectrum herbicide available in Europe, with paraquat already banned. In France, glyphosate use is restricted and is only available to no-till or minimum-till growers. Growers who apply pesticides must use a scale that measures the total amount of active ingredient applied, named the ‘Frequency of Treatments (ITF)’. If the total score reaches a certain level, no other pesticides can be applied in that year. According to Dr Harm van Rees, some growers are using robotics to control weeds, and several are experimenting with alternative methods of weed control, such as between-row mechanical soil disturbance, which is very difficult in paddocks with retained stubbles from previous crops. In Germany, there are 77 pesticides under review. While glyphosate is not on this list, Dr Harm van Rees’ research indicates that at a political level, Germany is not likely to support the continued use of glyphosate. According to Dr Harm van Rees, organic grain production in the EU has similar yields to minimum or no-till grown grain crops. However, non-organic growers have a more intensive rotation, while organic growers only grow one crop per year due to the need to plough and cultivate between

crops for weed control. Organic grain growers receive a premium price for their produce, along with additional subsidies, which means the income received is similar to that of non-organic growers. In Canada, glyphosate was re-registered following a full evaluation in 2017 by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), which concluded there was no risk or concern for human health or the environment when used according to the label. However, in February 2022, the first-ever intervention on a PMRA decision by the Federal Court of Appeal occurred when the Court ordered the PMRA to review its decision to re-register glyphosate. To date, that review has not been made public. According to Dr Harm van Rees, if glyphosate were to be banned, Canadian growers identified ‘crop competition’ as the most likely method to achieve some level of weed control (i.e., early seeding, seeding at high rates, using narrow row spacings, and growing competitive cultivars). Remote sensing for identifying weed patches, using rod weeders, weed wipers, and shielded sprayers were also mentioned, but the Canadian growers he visited did not see tillage as a solution to ‘farming without glyphosate’. The growers expressed concerns about impacts on soil health and diesel usage if tillage became their main weed control method. The growers also felt that substituting other herbicides for glyphosate is likely to increase the total amount of herbicide applied (due to the reduced efficacy of other herbicides in killing a broad spectrum of weeds). In Argentina, an increasing number of country towns are banning the use of all pesticides and artificial fertilisers for a prescribed distance from the town’s boundary. Unfortunately, there is no compensation for the landowner for loss of production. According to Dr Harm van Rees, over 90% of grain production in Argentina is conducted by means of no-till farming practices, with most farmers double cropping with winter crops (wheat, some

barley) and summer crops (soy, maize, and sunflower). Cover crops are grown between crops to protect the soil from erosion, reduce weed pressure, and retain soil nitrogen levels. Argentina is undertaking research into herbicide resistance, cover crops, crop competition, and other agronomic means to control weeds and is investing in an agronomy consulting network to develop, test, and share new technologies. Research into boom sprayer pesticide application, such as robotics, microwave and laser technology, and nano- encapsulation of herbicides, which release active ingredients slowly without resulting in detrimental impact on soil biota, is also underway. Where to From Here? The research study tour undertaken by Dr Harm van Rees and his colleague, Anne Jackman, has concluded that agricultural groups in Australia should look to establish a coordinated network of trials and demonstrations to communicate, identify, and demonstrate alternative practices to weed management, such as crop planting rates, better understanding of weed behaviour, strategic use of cover cropping for weed suppression, and alternative herbicide options. Summary While the ‘jury’ is still out on the future of glyphosate in Australia and abroad, there is no doubt that consumer expectations about the presence of glyphosate in our food chain and natural environments, along with strong media attention arising from legal action against Monsanto, are increasingly impacting public policy decisions about glyphosate. While alternative herbicides and adaptations to our farming systems may offer some assistance, if glyphosate usage is banned or restricted in Australia, or in markets which Australian farmers rely on, there will be many farmers across a vast array of industries exploring the strategic use of tillage to manage weed pressure.



Welcome to the team ISSUE 41

Matthew Wales Assembly Operator

providing high quality, sustainable, reliable farm equipment in Australia. I just wanted to be involved and be part of a dynamic team. What’s the best thing (so far) about working at K-Line Ag? K-line Ag has provided me with an opportunity of full time employment and through the training provided we are able to work together to achieve our goals. What would you like to be doing in 5 years time? I would like to continue my employment with K-line Ag, learn and grow within the company.

Description of your role at K-Line Ag I am currently enrolled for Certificate III in Process Manufacturing. To achieve my daily tasks as an assembly operator, my role is to assemble the toolbars and plow discs. We attach them to the mainframe and the wings of each machine. My role can vary depending on the size of the machine and whether the machinery is for an overseas order or an order within Australia. What attracted you to this position? K-line Ag is a well known company

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EFFICIENCY AND ACCURACY FOR PROFITABILITY. Flexi-Coil 5500 Highly productive machine delivers proven performance and durability Floating, flexible frame follows contours High frame clearance for exceptional trash flow

Floatation tyre package ensures a consistent seeding depth Floating gang packers provide even packing across the whole bar Rear fold Design - ideal for road transport

60 Series Air Carts Simple, easy to use and highly efficient Flexi-Coil legacy as an Air Cart innovator

Patented FlexRate ™ modular metering system Save on inputs with precision seed placement High volume air capacity for the largest drills and high rates Cameras and lighting packages included for operation during all hours Liquid tank, now as an option from factory NEW





Staff Spotlight

Brendan Ward Senior Production Fabricator/Welder

What do you think about K-Line machines? I think they are very well designed and built solid to suit any terrain. What is the best thing about your job? Working in a team environment with workmanship on point. What is the worst thing about your job? Being in below zero temperatures and also extreme hot days while welding. What do you like doing in your spare time? Spending it with my family watching my daughters grow so fast.

How long have you worked at K-Line Ag? 13.5 years Tell us about what a normal workday looks like for you? Alarm goes off at 3:30 a.m quickly pack lunch and get to work at 4:00 to make breakfast (coffee) and do my take 5 then start fabrication for the day.

My joke of the season What do you call a factory that makes good products? A satisfactory.


SECURE YOUR MACHINE NOW CONTACT YOUR LOCAL DEALER TODAY WWW.K-LINE.NET.AU Finance is available across a range of K-Line Ag machines

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Dealer Network

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 or call us on 1800 194 131


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