WA Farmers Gaining Ground Thanks to Reefinator
Australian AgContractor & Large Scale Farmer, Issue 92, Special Edition: Groundbreaker 2016. The Professionals Guide To Cultivation & Crop Establishment, Page 14.
For agronomist Simon Teakle in Geraldton, Western Australia seeing is believing.
Some of Simon's clients used a Reefinator on their properties, and the results were so impressive that he bought his own machine a year ago.
“I saw the immediate benefits that they got out of the Reefinator in areas of hard-to-manage soil, and I thought it was a good thing to offer clients for shallow gravelly soils that need special attention.”
He says the majority of soils have a shallow base and are acidic at depths. The Reefinator allows them to open up the soils and get lime deeper.
“It becomes a much easier soil type to work and better producing.”
In the cropping areas where Simon works, clients typically cultivate around the rocky patches in their paddocks. Working them would be to hard on machinery and it doesn’t yield anyway.
“With the Reefinator, areas of the farm that traditionally give no income are now giving 1.5 tonnes of wheat per hectare.”
Simon says one client worked out it would take 1.76 years to pay for the cost of the work. And that is a one-off cost for forever-improved soils.
In other areas the clients were planting but the soil was so shallow that yield is minimal.
“The topsoil is 5cm at best. If the crop comes up at all, it dies, as there’s nothing to put roots into. Now it is 20 to 25cm and the crop has something to put roots into.”
Water retention is another massive bonus because the soils have better water-holding capacity and less run-off.
It also increases the lifespan of the farmers’ tillage implements and drills because they are not being knocked around by the rocky outcrops.
“I’m ecstatic with the Reefinator. Tim has developed a fantastic machine,” Simon says.
Scott and Michaela Crosby farm winter cereals, oil seeds, pulses and merinos on 7500ha in Nyabing, WA, on Balcathring Farm.
Scott says the soils are poor with low fertility. “In this country we’re only farming 2.0-3.0 cm of soil, which limits the water we can hold. If you can gain 15cm of soil, you hold more water, and lift productivity enormously.”
They bought a Reefinator a year ago in partnership with two neighbours. They are all in iron stone country with stony, gravely soils and rocky outcrops.
“This machine has made it able to grow more productive pasture and cereals. It turned unproductive country into good useable soil.”
Scott has done 450 hours on his Reefinator, covering 200ha. Most of his soils take only one or two passes and as a result production is increasing from about 1 tonne to 3 tonnes of cereal per hectare.
About five percent of his ground is pure rock and that takes five to six passes.
Scott thinks it will take one season to get his money back. The areas that weren’t too bad cost about $150 per hectare to Reefinate. The really rocky country is up to $500 per hectare.
“We’re averaging $350 per hectare and that includes depreciation on the machine and on the capital cost of the tractor pulling it. That country is valued at nearly nothing; it’s just about worthless, and now all of a sudden it’s worth $1200 to $1300 per hectare.
“With the projected cereal crop I should get that money back this year. It is a no-brainer. I can already see the results.”
Tractors the three farmers are using to pull the Reefinator range in size from 300hp up to 670hp/
“We use all that horsepower, It means you go down deeper and do less passes,” Scott says.
Scott says the Reefinator is a very simple, well-built machine. Regular maintenance includes changing the points, and Scott says he changes them all in 10 minutes. AC