Follow-up needed to keep farmer optimism

Follow-up needed to keep farmer optimism | Opinion


Crops in the Riverland are thriving after a promising start.

Brenton Kroehn in Kord wheat with dog Sam.

Brenton Kroehn in Kord wheat with dog Sam.

AFTER reporting last week about sheep producer confidence for the lambing season ahead, the same could be said for my travels to the Riverland this week, where many crops are thriving after a promising start.

I popped in to see Brenton Kroehn at Kanni, just south of Waikerie, who said he had "never seen anything like it" after one of the best starts in a long time "by miles".

"You wouldn't know we have just been through two years of drought," he said.

The most emotionally and financially challenging two years of his life, he said.

Brenton, who also runs the Borung Poll Merino stud, said he had to containment feed 1000 ewes for seven months from late 2018 into 2019 because it got so bad. It almost broke him, he said.

Thankfully he now has a lot more optimism because of the unprecedented start to the cropping season.

It certainly showed in the hip-high barley/vetch crop he took me to, which was already being grazed by ewes and lambs to keep on top of it.

He had been grazing this year's crops since late March, after already surpassing last year's annual rainfall tally.

Good subsoil moisture has instilled some confidence about the rest of the season, but more rain soon, after a very dry month of June, would help ensure that optimism remained.

It is again a stark contrast to the polar opposite conditions some farmers are having to endure within this state.

On my way back home from Waikerie, I dropped into Gawler River to meet up with Lisa Vassallo, founder of the Helping SA Farmers Group, who was in the process of coordinating her 25th hay run to the North East pastoral region since August 2018.

This load was bound for Yunta, where many pastoralists were going into their fourth and fifth drought seasons.

She said while they have had a relatively "textbook" start to the season, it doesn't make up for the hand to mouth feeding under way and the lack of hay stocks on-farm.

Lisa is a city slicker herself, drawn to helping our farmers after seeing a gap in local drought support in 2018, unlike the well-televised plights of Qld and NSW farmers.

She said they were in it for the "long haul". No pun intended.

If you would like to help, contact Lisa at

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