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Hi everyone, I’m Ashton Gray from WA, and my wife Georgia and I farm with our children Madelyn and Louie (and Coco the dog) at Tarin Rock, WA with my brother Kael and sister Tahryn, and brother-in-law Damian. Together, we farm 7500 hectares of crop plus run 3500 Merino ewes and lambs with a total of 7000 head.

Out here, soil types range from gravel loams to sand and rainfall is about 300mm per annum, of which 220mm is growing season rain. In March, 40 to 50mm was received, from the remnants of a cyclone which created an excellent knockdown opportunity. Now that that moisture is down “out of reach”, dry seeding vetches has begun.

Ashton and Louie taking a break from harvest

Vetches are a 'one-off' legume to graze lambs on in spring and then depending on the season they can be used as green manure to set the paddock up for the following grain crop. Lupins are sown to provide sheep feed.

In terms of the grain crops grown, about 50% is barley, about 40% oats (for grain and export hay) and 10% canola. We originally were wheat growers, but because early sowing increases the frost risk, wheat has been deleted from the program. Oats have replaced wheat as the other major cereal in the rotations.

I can see opportunities on the horizon with continuing improvements in plant breeding, green-on-green sprayers and variable rate technology for spreading (something we already use for pre-seeding spreading of potassium and are hoping soon to use for nitrogen) and seeding (currently being trialled on a small scale).

Another opportunity is to educate legislators to better understand farming practices so they can make better-informed decisions that will continue the sustainability and profitability of Australian farmers

I am proud to be an Australian grain grower because I believe Australia has a reputation for a “clean green brand”. Australian farmers are world-class producers of very high-quality products, we look after the land and the soils to the point where they are now more productive than ever. Australian farmers can, and have in the past, adapt using new technologies, to whatever climatic conditions present.

Dry seeding vetches