NEW PASTURES: Sam, Andrew and Angus Smith with their dog Buddy, at their new Brinkley farm.

Maiden season triumph for Smith family

SOMETIMES, elements of life come down to timing – the optimal time to sow, the perfectly timed mid-season rain or the time to start spraying.

SOMETIMES, elements of life come down to timing – the optimal time to sow, the perfectly timed mid-season rain or the time to start spraying.

For Andrew Smith, Brinkley, it was the perfectly-timed purchase of a 647-hectare farm at Brinkley, which allowed him and his two sons Angus, 18, and Sam, 17, to sow the first crop at their new home.

The Smiths were running about 500 Merinos and cropping about 202 hectares of of Compass barley at a farm at Ettrick, but were eager to expand their operation.

In May last year they were given early access to the Brinkley farm they had just bought, and Angus and Sam managed to sow 404ha of barley and 242ha of wheat within 12 days.

Their seeding rates were between 70 kilograms to 80kg with 20 centimetre row spacings. MAP was applied at 80kg/ha with this topped up with 50kg/ha of urea later in the season.

They finished about two weeks behind the rest of the farming community, on June 2, the day the property was settled.

“We were only looking for another 404ha to add to the Ettrick farm, but it makes sense if you’re going to farm properly, you need to live on it and have everything together,” Andrew said.

“The farm came up at the right time – it takes time to put everything together.”

With yards, shearing sheds, fences and paddocks in good order, the Smiths were able to hit the ground running with some assistance from their agronomist David Millan, Landmark Murray Bridge.

“The land was professionally managed for many years on a rotational basis,” Andrew said.

“We have changed from half rotation to full crop.”

Next season Andrew said he aimed to change the rotation by bringing more sheep onto the farm.

In their first season at Brinkley, Andrew said he was generally impressed with the way the country performed, but yields were varied.

The first paddock of Compass barley yielded 3.6 tonnes a hectare. Other paddocks only resulted in 2.5t/ha, dropping as low as 1.3t/ha in some paddocks.

The Smiths harvested about 1.2-1.4t/ha of Emu Rock wheat, but were most impressed by their 10ha trial of Scepter wheat.

“The Scepter produced about 30 per cent more than what I had anticipated,” Andrew said. “We bought a small amount of seed – the seed quality was not that good because it had been so dry, and it was put in very late – almost an afterthought.

“We were quite taken with the Scepter, for the little trial we put in it was very good.”

Andrew said they retained the Scepter wheat grain to sow again next year and will potentially increase the amount they sow next season, and increasing their total cropping area to 1214ha in the future.

CROPPING on the Smiths’ Brinkley farm does not slow down, despite Andrew Smith having a full-time government job off-farm.

His eldest son Angus has finished secondary school, and the 18-year-old has developed a passion for farming like his father.

His youngest son Sam, 17, also works on the farm, but will have year 12 studies to focus on this year and is intending to study agricultural sciences at university next year.

“I’ve got my lads here on the farm, so nothing has to stop, spraying, harvest, you name it, the cycle continues,” Andrew said.

“This season will be different, because last season I was working and both Angus and Sam were at school, so we were trying to spray when it was convenient to us, not to the conditions, whereas now we can look to the weather station and go for it.”

Andrew said he was looking forward to the family’s second season at Brinkley, but hoped there would be more rain.

During the whole growing season the Smiths recieved 65 millimetres of rain, half of which came during one downpour in late August.

“After that we had recordings of 1mm to 2mm... if we had had 10-20mm in September and October, it would have looked to be another special year again,” Andrew said.

Andrew said he was grateful for the Country Fire Service and Monarto Ag Bureau installing a weather station on their property.

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