Farming, a profession that much of the time seems to rely on luck rather than the skill and hard work the farmer puts in. Nature and natural elements play a vital role in farming, they can make or break a harvest in a matter of hours.
What nature decides to dish out is often unknown, and often livestock just wont do as their told. There isn’t much the farmer can do, but go along with it.
There are some days when things just never go to plan from the moment the farmer or grazier steps out of bed,
- They wake up in the dark and have their breakfast,
- the dog has chewed the tags of their boots,
- the ute has a flat tyre,
- they find out that the livestock have broken a fence and are out,
- they see the ram in with the ewes,
- The tractor won’t start because rats have chewed through a wire,
- A tree fell on a fence in the night,
- When they go to start the bore they find that the fuel can is empty,
- and when they finally get home, the power is out and the beer is warm.
You must wonder, who could continue to shed their blood, sweat and tears, year after year with the knowledge that mother nature could rip it all away in less than a day? Who in their right mind could take such risks?
Are farmers mad? Farmers can plan and monitor all they like, but when nature is ready to strike, all they can do is clean up what is left of their harvest.
For many, farming is in their blood, it’s a lifestyle that they feel passionately about, the risk is a part of their way of life.
Their property and their land are not only a business they work in, but it’s their home. Some families are working land their family has worked for generations, it is a part of their history and identity.
Feeding the population and reaping the rewards feel so much better when you have worked hard to earn them.
There are several factors that are in farmers control, for example;
- Soil preparation,
- Long-term soil enhancement strategies,
- Weed management and pest control,
- Crop monitoring and management,
- Market strategies,
- Timing of seeding and harvest
Now, farming and production have come a long way in terms of efficiency and producing more from less. There is also ever more pressure to improve every practice along the supply chain.
Sometimes you must wonder, does it take a certain type of person to be able to leave so much of their living up to the elements? We think so, and we certainly think it takes some of the strongest Australians’ to make it work when things are going bad.
Yields will still be highly reliant on the sun and the rain. Some years there will be too much rain and their crops will get soaked, other years there might not be enough, and sometimes the rain just comes at the wrong time.
Frost, plagues of insects or rodents and crop disease is often out of the farmer's hands and can be more than frustrating for the producer.
In some of the worst cases in Australian agricultural history are droughts. Droughts, such as the millennium drought in the early 2000s that gripped much of South Australia, have taken a grip of a region and not let go for years. Drought can have devastating outcomes for hardworking Australian farmers and their families. It can take years for farmers and their land to recover from drought events.
Unforeseen extreme weather events that sometimes plague a region or even a whole state can also cripple production. These events include flooding, extreme unseasonal frost and snow, bushfires, hail, droughts and relentless high winds.
Some recent examples of these that you would have heard about include;
- The extreme storm that SA experienced in 2016, which devastated some crops and left the state without power and phone reception.
- The Millennium drought recognised as the worst drought in South Australia’s history. It saw the flow into River Murray system virtually stop, and Adelaide was placed on Level 3 water restrictions. It also threatened the natural wetlands, the horticulture and viticulture industries, as well as the health of the soil surrounding the Murray regions,
- The Pinery Fires that stopped the state in 2015, incinerating homes, crops, machinery, sheds, freshly bailed hay and livestock all around harvest time.
All that they can really do in times like these is sigh and try their hardest to pick up the pieces.
Thankfully, in times of hardship, Australian’s have an outstanding reputation for coming together and helping those in need.
It takes a defiant positive attitude and a level head to deal with what nature dishes out. The importance of the Australian farmer is unquestionable, they feed the nation and are so good at what they do that most of their produce is exported overseas.
Farmers are defiantly a rare breed and we think that their effort should be celebrated.
Some may say that farmers are mad to be able to risk so much on the elements, but they are also some of the most hardworking, tenacious and dedicated people in Australia.
Check out our article on why we need to do more with less here.