CROPPING operations do not always need the newest machinery or latest technology to be successful.
Sometimes all it takes is organisation, being good to your staff and local resellers and keeping it simple, says self-proclaimed "efficiency nut" Ben Wundersitz.
Mr Wundersitz was the farmer guest speaker at the recent Hart Field-Site Group's Getting the Crop In seminar, where he gave an insight into his 6500-hectare Yorke Peninsula cropping operation Anna Binna, which he runs with wife Belinda.
"Country is tightly-held on the YP, so whatever you do, you've got to be efficient and get the most out of your machinery," he said.
He highlighted efficiencies made on-farm to help reduce their cost of production.
"Initially we aimed to create larger paddocks to make our machines more efficient," he said.
"In small paddocks, constantly turning machines is costly as it increases overlap and reduces work rate.
"By removing fences, we have increased our average paddock size to 300ha.
"We have also installed water and fuel storage tanks on larger blocks to reduce time moving and fueling."
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Mr Wundersitz said they also operated 24 hours a day to get the most out of capital invested in machinery.
"We're lucky on the YP, we can start sowing earlier in the coastal areas without the fear of frost," he said.
"We have a sowing window of four weeks, but running our seeder 24 hours a day means we can sow it in three. So we are not fussed if we get held up by rain."
They plan to start seeding on April 15, using a recently purchased 24-metre Flexicoil 5500 seeder with 33,500-litre Flexicoil aircart.
"This will enable us to run through the night on a single fill, which reduces downtime and increases productivity by 25 per cent," he said.
"We also back the seeder up with a service truck holding an aircompressor, spare tyres, tynes, filters, fuel and oil - pretty much everything to keep that seeder running."
They also invested in a Pro Trakker unit this year to enable better inter-row sowing.
Mr Wundersitz said they also had seeding plans and cheat sheets in all machines and vehicles.
"This ensures that if any staff member needed time off, another person can pretty much do any job and seeding can continue," he said.
Proven technology, machines chosen to boost on-farm productivity
SHINY new paint does not always provide an increase in on-farm productivity, Yorke Peninsula cropper Ben Wundersitz warned graingrowers at the recent Getting the Crop In seminar.
"While it's great to have new machines, we still target good second-hand machinery often from WA - again focusing on keeping it simple," he said.
The advice also applied to investing in unproven new technology.
"While it's great to be at the cutting edge, our aim is to invest in reliable technology that pays," he said.
Mr Wundersitz said they ran a Hardi Saritor sprayer with a 48-metre boom.
"Self-propelled sprayers have a massive depreciation cost so we run it with a water truck to ensure we maximise productivity and keep it spraying," he said.
They have also increased on-farm storage for seed and fertiliser.
"Our aim is to hold enough seed to have choice in our rotation, while also having back up seed if there's a crop failure," he said.
"Fertiliser silos also give us supply over the weekends, when dealers may not be open, or if supplies get tight."
Mr Wundersitz said they also saved money on inputs by targeting cycles throughout the year.
"We tend to work with local suppliers that help us target the lower end of the pricing cycle on fertiliser, fuel and chemical," he said.
"I'm happy for our local resellers to take a margin on the way through, but in return we need market intelligence and guaranteed supply.
"We can now hold enough fuel to get through our busy seasons, which also guarantees supply with limited stock held in SA."