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Ausplow an eye-opener for European farmers

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Ausplow’s Chris Farmer (left) and Chris Blight, flank French farmer Guillaume Renault and Belgium precision farming dealer and tour leader Pol Braine during the recent factory tour by a group of European farmers to Ausplow’s Jandakot factory.

Ausplow’s Chris Farmer (left) and Chris Blight, flank French farmer Guillaume Renault and Belgium precision farming dealer and tour leader Pol Braine during the recent factory tour by a group of European farmers to Ausplow’s Jandakot factory.

By KEN WILSON
PLANTING a 24ha paddock in less than hour raised the collective eyebrows of a group of European farmers who visited the Ausplow Jandakot factory in January on the first leg of an Australian tour.
Their factory visit was to learn about the principles of the DBS precision seeder and watch the manufacture and assembly of DBS units and the Multistream
air seeder.
It was a case of landing in the world of the giants watching videos of 24.4m (80ft) DBS bars in action linked to 28,000 litre-capacity Multistream air seeders.
The majority of the 16-strong party comprised Belgium farmers (one Frenchman) on an annual world tour organised by Belgium Ag Leader dealer Pol Braine, who is pioneering RTK guidance in Belgium and promoting one-pass crop establishment.
Through the party’s interpreter, French farmer Guillaume Renault, Mr Braine said he facilitated farm tours to continue the learning curve.
“Last year we went to South America and this year it is Australia and we can learn from others,” he said.
According to Mr Braine, typical farm properties in Belgium range in size between 60ha and 600ha.
“On a 60ha farm you can have say 15 fields to grow a variety of crops from wheat and canola to barley, legumes and potatoes,” he said. “It’s the same for the larger properties but fields are obviously larger to about 60ha.”
Crop yields range from 10t/ha for wheat to 8-8.5t/ha for barley and 4.5t/ha for canola.
“Fifty per cent of farmers still mouldboard plough but 10 years ago it was 100pc,” Mr Braine said.
According to Mr Renault, Mr Braine also pioneered one-pass crop establishment in Belgium in 1993, using a power harrow with a mounted seed box.
“It has been a slow adoption,” Mr Braine said. “But changes are being made because of higher costs of production and the introduction of RTK guidance.
“Ten years ago a 25ha farm would have supported seven people.
“Now it takes 120ha and it is putting pressure on farming families with succession a big problem along with cost of land.”
A typical cost is 67,000 euros for a hectare of land, equivalent to $A96, 900.
“You can see why younger people want to sell the land when all they get a year is 6000 euros ($A8700) from rent,” Mr Braine said. “It’s killing farming.”
According to Mr Renault, who farms 100ha in northern France, increasing costs are making a big impact on European farming.
“I get 40,000 euros ($A57, 900) in subsidy payments from the government which is more than my income,” he said. “We are all trying to find ways to do things cheaper and more efficiently.”
Mr Renault said the principles of the DBS seeder (cultivating below the seed and accurate seed placement) would work well in Europe.
“But we would only need small machines between three and six metres (10-20ft) working width on 15cm (6in) spacings and a transport width of 2.5m (8ft) to negotiate the small laneways,” he said.
“I think the DBS would help our farming in saving money and perhaps giving us higher yields.”
Interestingly, Mr Renault worked on Cascade farmer Chris Roberts’ farm in 2003 learning about precision guidance before working with Auto Farm in France to foster precision guidance in that country in 2006.
“I remember Chris had two DBS bars when I worked there so a visit to the Ausplow factory as a natural thing when we came to Australia,” he said.
Published by Farm Weekly January 2015.

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Publish Date: 
Thursday, January 29, 2015