Eye to the future influences young farmer’s decisions today
23 Oct 2019
In the current agricultural landscape, it's becoming increasingly evident the best performing farmers are the ones willing to adopt new technologies and challenge themselves in an industry where what could have only been imagined a few decades ago is now a reality.
South Australian farmer Sam Holman is an example of a producer who's not only embraced the technology that's now readily available through the machinery he operates and the systems he runs, but is already looking to – and preparing for – what comes next.
Sam owns and leases more than 1400ha on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula, near Paskeville, and at just 21 years of age is part of a generation of farmers who has grown up with increasingly sophisticated tech innovations and solutions.
A fifth-generation farmer, Sam took on the responsibility of the family properties – Martinella Farms - a little sooner than he would have hoped after his father died five years ago. Sam was still at school but stepped into the business and got on with the job of running the broadacre cropping operations which cover wheat, barley, lentils, chick peas and hay.
Hay is a significant part of Sam's business, with all the hay and straw they bale exported to Japan and Taiwan. With a new Case IH LB434 XL baler and three-year-old Case IH Magnum 380 Rowtrac, they produced about 5500 bales last year for Martinella Farms and for a number of contracting clients.
"The baler is brilliant. If you want one that gets great weight and is easy to operate, reasonably quick and cheaper to maintain, then it's a great baler," Sam said.
"We average 65 to 70 bales an hour with it which we're happy with, averaging 670kg up to 700kg this year. Straw's anywhere from 360kg to 480kg depending on conditions and the length of the straw."
Similarly, the Magnum has proved a reliable – and versatile - workhorse for the business.
"Gone are the days when you purchased a high horsepower tractor and only used it to pull an air seeder for a month. Ours pulls the air seeder, runs spreader in crop, runs the baler, chaser bins – it lends itself to a lot of different jobs rather than having a lot of different tractors," Sam said.
"We're trying to make use of whatever technology we can, and as long as we can see it's making a return on investment, then we'll keep using it and be looking to do more with it" - Sam Holman
With such a demanding cropping schedule Sam also relies heavily on the Case IH Axial-Flow 8240 that was purchased at the same time as the baler, and was one of the first in Australia to come with a factory-fitted X-tra Chop residue system (integral chopper + Redekop MAV chopper).
"It's brilliant, increasing the spreading width of the machine, spreading straw residue evenly out the back of the header and doing a better job of chopping material as well," Sam said.
As well as relying on the performance and efficiency of his machinery, Sam also makes good use of the technology incorporated into each of his Case IH machines.
"We've started implementing telematics on all our machines so at any time we can have the information sent straight from the machine to a mobile or computer and see what it's doing. With the likes of the baler we can see what it's producing an hour, also average weight and moisture, then pass that info onto our customers for their peace of mind that our machine is doing the best job possible," Sam said.
"It makes planning easier and allows you to modify things on the fly. The telematics gives us the ability to connect back to Case IH AFS Connect and our farm management software so it ends up being a whole farm program.
"We're trying to make use of whatever technology we can, and as long as we can see it's making a return on investment, then we'll keep using it and be looking to do more with it."
Sam has no plans to change from the Case IH machinery his family has always used, saying its reliability, ease-of-use and service he receives from his local Case IH dealership, Larwoods, are second-to-none. The company's technology advances – and future products and upgrades - are also a factor.
And while maximising the benefits of this technology comes with an initial outlay in terms of time to input information and establish systems, Sam says it simplifies things in the long-term. And by making the investment and putting in the effort, he's ready for what the not-too-distant future holds.
"In 10 years' time I'd like to have doubled my holdings and have telematics in every machine. Hopefully we'll have automation in field, or at the very least have machines running side by side with one automated. I think that's where things will end up, so getting in on the ground floor and making sure our systems are established now and everything's in place will make things a lot easier down the track."
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