A fourth-generation farmer uses BioAg Fertiliser and Fertility Programs to improve the quality and sustainability of his soils, which allowed for a shift to continuous cropping of their 104 year-old farm.

Improved soil health has led to increased production for Colin Falls' farmSummary

Who: Colin Falls
Where: Dingee, north of Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
What: Continuous Cropping (canola, wheat, barley)
Fertiliser Program summary: Soil & Seed, Balance & Grow, Fruit & Balance, MAP, Urea, with periodic soil tests
Results summary: (i) Enabled move to continuous cropping, (ii) Increases in yield, (iii) Increases in grain grades, (iv) Increased drought resistance, (v) Improved soil health delivered net increase in production and profit

Recently we spoke to Colin Falls, a fourth-generation farmer with a property that has been in his family for 104 years. Since making the move to BioAg programs some years ago, the improvement in soil health his farm experienced meant they were able to increase the quality of their product and maintain a sustainable continuous cropping cycle.

The BioAg programs we have been provided address the health of the soil as well as providing for the plant, said Colin. And from this we have seen a consistent increase in the quality of our crops. The program has more than paid for itself. [blockquote]”Neighbouring farms are producing ASW grains, but at the same time we are getting APW, H2, and even H1″.[/blockquote]

After using the program we were in a position to move to continuous cropping because the soil was not depleted after each harvest. It’s now a sustainable operation.  

Colin’s father Lindsay, who is now in his mid 70’s still works with him on their property located near Dingee, 50km north of Bendigo in Victoria where they grow canola, wheat and barley in a continuous cropping situation. Colin’s son has just finished a course in agriculture and is spending some time travelling around Australia before re-joining his father and grandfather on the farm.

The Falls family first came across BioAg products in the late 90’s however took a few years to do some trials and watch the results before being convinced to commit to a program. During the trialling phase, there were some key observations that led to on-going use.

The Falls family farm near Dingee in Victoria has been in the family for four generations and 104 years.

One time we sprayed a strip down the middle of a paddock and you could see the improvement to the very edge of where we had sprayed.

Colin also spoke of a trial he conducted in the middle of a drought.

We treated half of a paddock as we normally would and got three bags an acre which ended up being cut for hay. The other half we sprayed with BioAg and harvested nine bags to the acre.

The Falls’ program includes regular soil tests, traditional cropping nutrients MAP and urea along with BioAg liquids Soil & Seed, Balance & Grow, and Fruit & Balance in quantities as prescribed. These BioAg liquids, in particular Soil & Seed, improve the efficiency of uptake of soluble fertilisers and the nutritional value to crops, even under continuous cropping regimes.  This results in more balanced plants, which better withstand the shocks and stresses that the weather imposes on crops during the growing season.  The net result is higher yields and improved quality with residual soil fertility enhancement.

Colin noted that this has had positive effects on grain size and quality including grains more consistent in size, less smaller grains (screenings), and overall they are in the range preferred by the market.

Neighbouring farms have been producing wheat classified as ASW in the same seasons that Colin and his family are producing the higher grades APW, H2 and even H1.

I’ve got neighbours to the north who get more rain than us and neighbours to the south who get less. In dry seasons, they all end up growing feed as their screenings are too high. That same season we are getting anywhere from $10 to $50 per tonne premiums for grain quality. 

We’ve really come to understand how important the health of the soil is for growing a healthy plant. When a plant is healthy then it will use as much nutrient and moisture as it can and this maximises its quality and yield potential, said Colin.

With the demand for food increasing the challenge for farmers is how to increase yields using the same amount of land. Sustainability needs to be built into any farming enterprise, but not at the cost of good returns.

Colin is a successful modern farmer, quick to avail himself of improved practices and leading edge machinery.  Whilst acknowledging the vagaries of the weather and the impact that the weather can have on yields and profit, Colin is an optimistic farmer who recognises that appropriate investment in soil fertility and plant nutrition ensures that the economic outcome is maximised, even in the tough years.

His final words on the matter? At the end of the day you have to be content with controlling the things you can.

Michael Douglass