Machinery

Growers chase efficiency at FarmFest 2024 + PICS

Liz Wells, June 5, 2024

Chinchilla grazier Gerard Bellgrove, Excel Gyral Toowoomba sales manager Stewart Kings and Condamine grower Robbie Ronnfeldt on the Excel Gyral site at FarmFest 2024.

GROWERS looking for ways to improve efficiency in their cropping operations are beating a path to FarmFest 2024 this week to check out the latest from manufacturers and suppliers.

FarmFest is Queensland’s biggest annual field day event, and brings together 750 primary exhibitors.

Among the items attracting attention are spray units to help stay on top of weed burdens, silos to improve on-farm grain-handling capabilities, and tractors.

Croplands Toowoomba-based national sales manager Jeremy Rennick said the RBR Enterprise self-propelled sprayer was attracting good interest yesterday, the first of the event’s three days.

“We’re the Australian distributor for this machine, the Vortex 430, which comes out of the southern US,” Mr Rennick said.

“The big difference is the capacity of the tank at 9000 litres; others are more like 6000 litres.”

Powered by a nine-litre Cummins engine, and with a road speed of up to 80kmh, the unit spans 36m, but a 48m one is being custom made for a grower on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

The standard 36m unit retails for more than $800,000, well above the $285,000-$300,000 for the Croplands Pinto 3000-litre trailed unit.

“We call that one ‘robot ready’ for growers who need to both save labour and achieve economies of scale.

“This one is 24m across, and can be towed by a SwarmBot.”

It can also be comfortably towed by a 200hp tractor.

Brigalow grower Greg Stuart has just planted around 720ha of chickpeas after not growing the crop last year, and is now turning his thoughts to how the Croplands offering can help him improve weed management after a wet end to the summer-cropping season.

“We’re looking at this new-style WEED-IT; we’ve got a 24m one now, and we’re looking at going up a grade.”

On the Case IH stand, Sean McColley said the Optum AFS Connect was making its first appearance at FarmFest this year.

“It’s fully stacked with precision technology with the Vector Pro receiver, and the GNSS satellite interface, so it can run single or dual displays, with an implement on one and guidance on the other.

“We think this machine is a good fit for the 2110 Early Riser eight-row precision planter used for crops like cotton and corn,” Mr McColley said.

“”This is a shorter wheel-base tractor, which means you can make tighter headland turns and have greater manoeuvrability.”

Visitors of all ages enjoyed clear and mild weather on day one of FarmFest 2024.

Drying help needed

Ahrens national rural sales manager John Bickerton said early interest at FarmFest 2024 was being seen in the manufacturer’s high-aeration silos.

These enable grain harvested at high moisture and put through the drier to cool down in a silo, rather than in a cooling phase in the drier cycle.

“If there’s more wet weather coming, growers can keep harvesting, and use that high-aeration function in the silo to cool the hot grain so they can put more high-moisture grain straight into the drier,” Mr Bickerton said.

Warren Nichol and daughter Charlie, Durong, were among the Northern Downs visitors to FarmFest 2024.

High-aeration silos have larger-capacity fans and aeration controllers than standard aeration silos, functions that add about 5-10pc to the cost.

After a lean year for the northern half of NSW last year, Mr Bickerton said demand has started to build again.

“Prospects for this year’s harvest are a lot more buoyant.”

Mr Bickerton said some growers were looking to spend some capital prior to the end of the financial year, and were looking at silos as a deduction.

“That becomes a question of supply.

“The next thing is people becoming aware of harvest dates; you’ve got to move quickly if you want something for the end of October.”

Mr Bickerton said Ahrens was looking at roughly a four to eight-week turnaround between ordering and delivery on a range of silo sizes.

“The most popular is that 74-126t range, and then the large flat-bottomed silos holding 800-1500t.”

Interest in ripping

Toowoomba-based business TTQ started more than 20 years ago, and up until 2015, managing director Geraint Hudson said up to 90pc of its business came from cotton looking to rip country.

These days, Mr Hudson said TTQ’s customer base was split roughly one-third each between cotton, broadacre and grazing operations.

“Up here, it’s about deep P placement,” Mr Hudson said.

This follows work led by Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries researcher Dr David Lester that says 28cm was the ideal depth at which to place phosphorous and get a yield response.

“That’s the Goldilocks depth.”

Mr Hudson said interest in deep placement follows a trend already well established in Western Australia, where TTQ implements are used to put nutrients at depth every four to five years.

“In WA, they’ve known for 10 years that if you rip, you’ll get an extra tonne to the hectare.”

TTQ’s customer base is spread across Australia’s winter-cropping zones, and also its cotton-growing regions.

Bongeen grower Brett Ziesemer talks field bins with Agribin’s product and logistics specialist Pete Thomas, Cowra, who is offering a FarmFest 2024 special on the pictured 59t unit, the biggest mobile field bin on the market.

 

Wellcamp visitor Clarence Hain dreams big on the Case stand at FarmFest 2024.

 

Croplands national sales manager Jeremy Rennick and Croplands Toowoomba area manager Lachie Coom look over the Croplands Pinto spray unit with Brigalow growers Greg Stuart and son Luke at FarmFest 2024.

 

RDO customer support representative Lester Handford with his grandson and Speckle Park exhibitor Milton Babarovich, Moola at the RDO site, where interest in the pictured Quadtrac 9R 540hp unit was strong from those wanting less compaction, a more comfortable ride, and better traction in wet conditions.

 

Dalby visitors to FarmFest 2024 Alleagha and Kipp Nothdurft with mum Shantelle Caulfield.

 

TTQ workshop supervisor and managing director Geraint Hudson on the TTQ site at FarmFest 2024.

 

Tony Bender and son Hayden from Chinchilla check out the offerings at FarmFest 2024 with Condamine visitor Matt Eising (centre).

 

Westbrook-based contract harvester Nick Koenig, Wingaree Ag, and STAG Machinery sales manager Bruce McGregor with the Case Optum 340 tractor on site at FarmFest 2024.

 

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