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Contractors put weather damage worries on the back foot

Jarrod Amery finished harvest at the end of November ahead of a storm that brought rain to his farm near Forbes, New South Wales.
Photo: Nicole Baxter

When Jarrod Amery had 25 per cent of his grain left to harvest and rain was on the way, he hired three contractors to harvest crops quickly and preserve quality.

Jarrod – who farms 2400ha with his wife Emma south of Forbes, New South Wales – says the decision paid off, allowing him to deliver 45 per cent of his wheat as H2, 30 per cent as APW1 and 25 per cent as ASW1.

The yield from the paddock pictured averaged 5.5 tonnes/hectare of Beckom wheat, slightly above the 5.4t/ha wheat average achieved during the past four years.

Their barley averaged 6.5t/ha. It was the family’s most profitable crop for 2023 due to forward contracting at good prices and high yields.

Their canola averaged 2.2t/ha, slightly below their 2.62t/ha four-year average. Season 2023 was drier than 2022, with 337 millimetres of rain from 1 January to 24 November. Their total rainfall in 2022 was 1.2 metres.

Jarrod says herbicide resistance, increased land prices and maintaining a high return on assets managed are their top three challenges.

“Maintaining high returns is becoming more difficult, with increasing input costs, land prices and machinery costs,” he says.

To delay herbicide resistance, Jarrod rotates crops and herbicides. He also runs 3500 Merino ewes, allowing him to pull paddocks out of the rotation if they are too weedy.

Regarding land price increases, he says there is not much he can do unless he relocates.

“However, the quality of our land is crucial to our success over time,” he says. “Poor quality land is always overpriced, and quality country looks expensive to most people.”

He says he always looks for quality, well-drained soils when buying or leasing land.

Jarrod says quality soils are critical for maintaining a positive return on assets managed over consecutive years.

In the past five years, he has learned that growers who produce the top 25 per cent of returns do “everything on time all of the time.”

“They also know when to spend to maximise returns in a favourable season and when to save when conditions look suboptimal,” he says.

Jarrod’s advisers include Farmanco farm management consultant Eric Nankivell, Delta Agribusiness agronomists James Ingrey and Henry Mitton and Wattletree Consulting grains analyst and marketing adviser Joe Righetti.

“Our grain marketing strategy was like trying to play pin the tail on the donkey where we were guessing when to sell,” he says.

“We’ve been using Joe for the past 12 months, and he has been very good for our business because we now have a risk management strategy.”

Jarrod will plant 290ha to lupins for the first time this year to make his wheat/canola rotation more sustainable. It follows a visit to the GRDC-NSW DPI-CSIRO farming systems trial at Greenethorpe, where he learned about the value of adding a pulse to his rotation. He sees this GRDC investment as an excellent use of growers' levies.

In 2019, Jarrod applied for a Nuffield Scholarship. He was delighted when GRDC offered to support his study from 2020, focusing on the traits of successful farmers.

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