Graham, Dalby, Qld
Graham’s family has been farming west of Dalby for 65 years, and the 571 hectare farm has been fully organic for the last 12 years. He has grown mung beans, popcorn and wheat for Kialla. The first 2 crops will grow through the summer season, while wheat is a winter crop that is harvested late in the year.
He switched over from being a cotton grower as he doesn’t like GMO crops, and most of the cotton crops in Australia are now GMO. He also got tired of using chemicals. As he says: “I didn’t enjoy it. Not many farmers do.”
He feels he had an advantage because he learnt farming from his grandfather, who knew how to be a good farmer in the days before chemicals were an everyday part of the process.
Weeds are probably the biggest challenge faced by organic farmers. If they are allowed to continue to grow amongst the crop the harvested grain can become contaminated with weed seed as well. This would then require extra work on the miller’s behalf, separating out the grain to ensure a high quality product.
Conventional farmers use herbicides to control weeds, but this isn’t an option when growing organically. Graham has a number of methods for keeping weeds in check. These include his sheep who will eat many of the weeds while grazing the fallow paddocks. Once the crop is growing he uses inter-row cultivation ploughing in any weeds that may grow in the rows between the grains. He also sends ‘chippers’ through the rows to manually hoe the weeds.
Graham’s farm is very near areas of Southern Queensland that are currently being used for Coal Seam Gas mining. He’s strongly opposed to CSG (also known as fracking) since it has potential to poison the underground water supply by contaminating with toxic chemicals.
He hopes that his grandchildren will one day be interested in returning to the farm where his dedication to organics has built an economically and environmentally sustainable business.