Rob, Dalby, Qld
About 14 years ago Rob came into organics from cotton farming and hasn’t looked back. Like most on the land he grew up working on his parents farm, and it was his contacts in the farming world that lead him to try his hand at organics.
He currently share farms about 200 hectares near the Condamine river and also manages the Kialla farm outside Theodore in Central Qld. Crops that he has grown for Kialla include 2 varieties of millet, wheat, sorghum, chickpeas, and more recently KAMUT® khorasan wheat.
Kialla recently acquired the exclusive Australian licence for the KAMUT® brand of khorasan wheat. This trademark guarantees that crops grown using the KAMUT® khorasan seeds are always organic, GMO-free, and that this ancient grain has not been hybridised or changed by modern wheat breeding programs. KAMUT® khorasan also has higher levels of antioxidants, especially selenium.
One of Rob’s main focuses, as an organic farmer, is on the technology available to replace the conventional farming methods such as fertiliser for artificially boosting soil, and chemical sprays to kill weeds.
While there used to be a perception, amongst many farmers as well as the general public, that organic farmers are ‘anti-development’, Rob points out that they are now right at the forefront when it comes to using farming technologies such as drones and complex soil microbiology.
Like many others who have left behind conventional farming with its high use of chemicals, Rob describes herbicides as ‘band-aid solutions’. Many farmers who’ve been spraying for years are experiencing herbicide-resistant weeds, and are therefore starting to farm using more organic methods for weed control and soil health.
Previous to managing the Kialla farms Rob was the grain buyer for Kialla, travelling many thousands of kilometres every year visiting farmers from Central Queensland all the way down to South Australia. His job of liaising with them to ensure they are growing the crops that fulfil our customers needs, has now been taken over by Dave Thompson.
However Rob is still talks to many farmers about farming methods, effectively creating a network of information and experience across organic farming.
Because he talks to a lot of farmers, he’s also clear about the pressures on Australian farmers, both in terms of economic challenges, and the increasing average age of the farmer who can often be the only full-time farm worker. And unlike farmers in other developed economies like the EU and USA, farmers in Australia do not receive subsidies year after year to supplement their bottom line. Rob has supplemented his farming income with fencing, harvesting and truck driving, in addition to his job as Kialla’s grain buyer. So you could say he’s a man who has worn many hats!
He’s also been known to work around the clock at harvest time to ensure the best harvest possible for Kialla.
As he says: “farming has a fairly gloomy future, but people will work out… that’s where their food comes from and it’ll come good – and there’s definitely a place for organics in it.”