George, Casino, NSW
Down on the lush Northern Rivers of NSW, George grows soya beans and white sorghum for Kialla.
He grew up on a farm in the same area, then went off to create his own stock agency business. Stock agents advise and represent farmers in business transactions around farming land, equipment and merchandise.
But he came back into farming about 15 years ago, buying 120 hectares near to where he grew up, and then began farming organically.
The Northern Rivers gets about 1500mm of rain a year, most of which falls in summer.
This means that crops requiring lots of water can be grown in summer, and there will still be enough moisture in the soil to grow a second crop in winter.
Soya beans are a ‘thirsty’ plant so they need to be grown in soil with high moisture, in areas that have high rainfall. However they also return nitrogen to the soil, allowing George to plant his second crop for the year. In George’s case he’ll plant winter wheat or sorghum.
Some years George plants upland brown rice. This is different from paddy rice, where the plants live in water for most of their life cycle (the water-logged paddy rice field is the traditional image we think of when we think of growing rice). Upland rice is a different variety of the rice species, but while it doesn’t need to have it’s roots flooded with water, it still needs a large quantity of rain to get through the growing cycle. This is what is known as ‘rain-fed’ rice. During dry seasons when rainfall is low, rice farmers in the region can also use irrigation off the large rivers nearby.
Often the farmer must make a decision as to which crop is the best business proposition. These kinds of decisions are all part of farming life, as with any business. More recently George has found combining his summer soya bean crop with a winter crop like sorghum or wheat is the best option.