Richens - Kamarah | Rabobank Australia Client
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Brad and Joan Richens, Kamarah

A huge commitment to innovation and technology have paved the way for Brad and Joan Richens to improve moisture conservation and soil health on their cropping property, Maypark, at Kamarah in the Riverina region.

Brad, who describes himself as a ‘born and bred farmer’ made a full-time return to farming about 20 years ago after an eight-year break working as a mechanic. Since then, he and Joan have expanded their farm business through land purchases and now grow wheat, barley, canola and chick peas on 1538 hectares.

But the biggest changes to the business have come through the introduction of new technology and machinery, including a 40-foot air seeder, a 120-foot boom stray and a 40-foot header.

“The air seeder will direct drill into stubble so I can retain a lot of my stubble."

"I have two centimetre accuracy guidance on my tractor so I can sow in between stubble rows without having to burn it or slash it,” Brad said.

“I also updated to a track tractor a couple of years ago back because I was seeing a lot of soil compaction with my wheel tractor.”

With his sights set on ongoing improvement, Brad also undertook a precision agronomy course two years ago on variable rate liming and understanding yield maps.

“I can overlay my yield map off my header, then overlay that with soil testing so that I can zone a paddock by myself and test different areas to find out what the restraints are. Normally for us that’s the pH level, so I switched to a variable rate spreader which means I can apply more lime where it’s needed and less where it’s not.

According to Brad, the changes they have made in their methods have been worth the end result, bringing greater water efficiency and improved soil health.

“We have better stubble management and moisture conservation and that gives us a better shot at growing crops in the marginal years with low rainfall.”

“It has cost a lot, but I think to be here in the long term we have to do it – it’s about being able to do the job better. We can’t farm without technology and we can’t farm without machinery," Brad said.

“If you go back 10 years, ago, we wouldn’t have been able to do half the job we’re doing now.”

Brad added that way they operate their business was something that was understood by their Rabobank relationship manager, Brian Mitchell.

“I’ve known Brian for a long time. He knows what crops we’re growing and knows the different varieties,” Brad said.

“As a business, it’s important that we work together as a team with both our relationship manager and our accountant.

“It’s been good dealing with Rabobank, and Joan and I have been more than happy. When I ring up to talk about what I want to do, I get a quick response.”

With the business tracking according to their plans, the Richens are now in a position to be able to consider their options for the future.

“We’ve got really up-to-date machinery and in a couple of years’ time we’ll see what direction we want to take the business. We could just keep ticking along, or we could buy a bit more land because we have the machinery to handle that,” Brad said.

“One option would be to buy another 240 to 400 hectares as we could still manage that ourselves.

“But if that option doesn’t come along, we will still own the machinery and will still happily keep farming.”

 

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