Although Major only got his full Organic Certification about 5 years ago he has essentially been farming organically for the past 30 years on his block, located about 90kms northeast of Goondi (as the locals call it). The farm is 913 hectares of pristine brigalow country – pristine in the sense that it has never had any artificial chemicals applied to the soil. It is here that he grows millet for Kialla.
Major grew up on his family’s farm in the Hunter Valley and headed bush as a jackaroo, working with sheep and cattle, and then eventually becoming a head stockman in Queensland. When he drew his block at Goondi in 1967 crop farming was only just beginning in the area. He planted his first crop in 1968 and continued to practice mixed farming, initially with sheep and later with cattle. In all the time he has been cropping on his farms in the area, he only applied artificial fertiliser once. This was at the suggestion of another farmer, however, he found that it made no difference to the quality of his crop so didn’t bother doing it again.
One of the advantages of farming in the Brigalow belt of southeast Queensland is that the Brigalow acts like legumes, fixing nitrogen in the soil and this works well for growing organic crops. Weeds rarely tend to be a problem.
It was about 30 years ago that he decided to maintain the chemical-free soil on his preferred farming block. He liked the idea of farming organically because it enabled him to keep the farm clean and chemical-free, even though he did not begin the full process of converting the farm to Certified Organic until around 2012.
After going through the 3-year conversion process, and he now supplies A-Grade Certified Organic crops to Kialla.
His is a mixed farm, meaning that he combines crop growing with raising cattle. Many farmers find that mixed farming can benefit soil quality. After a harvest, the cattle will be put into the crop area for a month or so. They eat the vegetation and their manure helps to fertilise the soil for the next crop.