FARMERS among the hardest hit by the freak January storm that dumped up to 300 millimetres of rain on the upper and eastern Eyre Peninsula are full of optimism about the upcoming growing season, despite juggling paddock repair, fencing, spraying and seeding preparation.
Damage varies across the district, with wheel tracks washed out, five-foot gutters cut through paddocks, wide scale sheet wash out of topsoil, fences lost and silt, sand and water deposits still laying in paddocks.
There is a hum of machinery across the region as growers try to remediate paddocks by grading and bulldozing to fill in gutters or by running offset discs, disc chains or tynes over hardpans where topsoil has been washed away.
At Kelly, south east of Kimba, Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group president Symon Allen and brother Josh have been putting a tow dozer across paddocks in an effort to fix wheel tracks washed out by running water; driving an offset disc over some country; are flat out spraying to combat the relentless influx of summer weeds; and are getting the seeding bar ready in the hopes of a late April start.
"There wouldn't be too many in the district that didn't have a paddock affected," Mr Allen said.
"Some have copped it a lot worse than others. If someone thinks they haven't had any damage they probably just haven't found it yet."
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BFIG held its annual general meeting on Sunday afternoon and Mr Allen said while most were feeling "under the pump" to start seeding on time, due to the extra workload, there was still great optimism about the season ahead and what the substantial subsoil moisture would mean for this year's crops.
"Even with high inputs, going into a full bucket of moisture gives you so much confidence," he said.
"We can grow a decent crop on 140mm of growing season rainfall and that's without subsoil moisture. All we need is a start."
A lot is hinging on this year's crops, with rising diesel prices making every day of paddock repair an expensive exercise.
Extra chemical needed to spray rampant summer weeds and the first signs of nitrogen deficiency means there will be important decisions to be made on whether to buy in more fertiliser to reach yield potential.
East of Buckleboo, where 250-278mm fell, Peter Woolford has made fencing and spraying his top two priorities.
The Woolfords had 19 kilometres of fencing destroyed, leaving 75 per cent of their farm unable to hold sheep.
Mr Woolford is hopeful insurance will cover most of the estimated $90,000 fencing repair bill and is holding off on making any decisions on the five-foot deep gutters that he estimates could cost up to $300,000 to rejuvenate.
"There was lots of topsoil washed away and with points we may still be able to rehabilitate some, but where the major damage is, we'll be just going around it," he said.
"We were staggered by the amount of damage to fences so our priorities have been getting the fences back up and spraying in preparation for the coming crop."
Despite the astonishing amount of damage, extra workload and cost of repairs, Mr Woolford believes the event will still have a positive outcome.
They started sowing vetch this week, will follow with some barley and plan to start on wheat around Anzac Day.
"I've said all the way that it's a positive thing that's happened," Mr Woolford said.
"A lot of heavy country has been flooded and I think we won't need a lot of rain throughout the season.
"We know we've got subsoil moisture there to help us throughout the year.
"Last year in this district, the places where there was storm activity in summer grew really good crops. Anywhere there wasn't, crops died because we didn't get any spring rain."
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