Sheep and crop mix fits | My Machinery
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Sheep and crop mix fits

2012 was the year that could have been for most WA farmers. Many of the farming ducks were aligned for what could have been a very successful year with high grain prices in particular, but overall the year was just average for most farmers and it was no different for Dandaragan farmer Jeremy Roberts. Jeremy, who farms with his wife Sarah, his brother Zac and his wife Jane and their daughter Lydia and parents Wade and Sally, looks after the cropping side of their 9500 hectare property and said the season was virtually the same across the State. “The rain for us has come at the right time this year, except we did have that dry spell in June/July like most of WA,” Jeremy said. “We had a dry start to the year, we had rain at the end of April and then a dry May which didn’t look too good at the time. “We normally dry seed everything and we just go flat out and get it in as quick as we can. “Some paddocks probably didn’t get a good knock down on weeds and stuff but our weed management ended up being okay. “Price-wise we were a bit worried at the start of the year so we didn’t lock in any contracts until we started to see a bit of a recovery which came mid year.” Jeremy said their wheat yielded about 3-3.5 tonnes a hectare, barley was 3-3.5t/ha, canola 1.5t/ha and lupins 1.5t/ha. The Roberts put in 1950ha of crop in total. “We normally don’t harvest our barley crops until late, so the varieties we have chosen in the past, like Mundah barley, are normally really early varieties that drop their heads by the time we get onto it, so our yields had been affected by that,” Jeremy said. “This year we changed to Fleet barley to try and reduce that problem and we averaged about 3-3.5t/ha. “The early stuff we have been able to harvest went about 3.5-4t/ha.” The Roberts mainly grow Noodle wheat but said it had been a challenge in the last couple of years due to protein issues. “We have to try and get below that 11.5 per cent protein and it depends on the weather – if it is wet or dry – and you have to make sure you get the nutrition right otherwise you can blow out your protein which has happened to us this year. “It happened mainly in the paddocks which are coming off a lupin crop and the protein was above 11.5pc and also the wheat which is coming off a canola stubble has been borderline. “I thought with the amount of rainfall we had we would have been able to fit it under that bracket but we were still pushing it.” Zac is in charge of the livestock side of the operation and Jeremy said sheep definitely had their benefits for cropping. The Roberts run 13,000 sheep and 450 cattle across their three farms. “We run a 4000 head self replacing Merino flock at the Badgingarra farm,” he said. “On the Strathmore farm we run 3000 Merinos and another 3000 crossbreds and 2500 Merinos and 500 Poll Dorsets and 500 White Suffolks on the Chelsea farm. “We also use Poll Dorsets, White Suffolks and Border Leicester rams.” He said despite the issues surrounding livestock in terms of processing capacity, live export issues and low prices, the family would continue to run sheep. “We are still holding a large percentage of lambs for this time of year and fingers crossed the sheep market will pick up next year,” he said. “You have to take the lows with the highs really. “We have had a couple of years with good attractive prices and now that has eroded away, but for us livestock was a huge part of our program so we are always going to have sheep involved with it. “They are very helpful with weed management for the cropping.”

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