Tuesday, 16 July 2013

$50k Gamble on Weather Forecast

We've had some lovely rain in the last few weeks, and as we are dryland farmers (we don't irrigate) it's been perfect for our crops, it's the best start to a season that I can remember (which is only the past 10 years!). Last year we didn't even manage 300mm for the year, hopefully this year will be better.

I thought I'd explain some of the reasons farmers watch the weather forecast so intently at certain times of the year.

We wanted to spread Urea (fertiliser) on the Canola and the Barley. In order for the Urea to do its job, it needs several millimeters of rain (preferably 10) to wash it into the soil after the granules are spread, otherwise it goes through a process called volitization, which basically means it evaporates.

You might wonder 'whats the big deal?' - Well for us (a small farm of 6000 acres) it would be $50k worth of Urea down the tube! Gone! Wasted!

Luckily for us, the predicted rain did eventuate, although the boys did have to pull an 'all nighter' to get Urea spread in time. 

Grain farming is an expensive game, it is gambling. To purchase a Header (Harvester) in Australia with no 'trade in', you're looking at around $650k! (Depending on exhange rates etc). 

With the rain comes the mud!

Our roads have held up well over this last period. But the wetter they get, the mudder they become. 

It's sometimes like 'running the gauntlet' on dirt roads. You just hang on and ride with it if you start to slide. 

But, our roads are nothing compared to the dirt roads in the northern areas of Australia. Ours are great compared to that.
Needless to say, we don't wash the car very often during rain events, it's a waste of time until the roads dry out a bit.

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