Jim and Katrina McDonald of 'Red Braes' in Quirindi, NSW, run a 1,420-hectare farm. Four hundred hectares are farmed on alluvial black soil, all zero-tilled and response cropped. Sorghum is the primary crop with soybeans, wheat, maize and barley also being grown. Another 80 ha of black soil are native grass and grazed.
They have a conservation covenant with the Department of Land and Water Conservation for the preservation of the native flora and fauna on 80 hectares of their property. The remainder is used for grazing 200 breeders and fattening their calves as yearlings with native and introduced grasses and legumes with some annual fodder cropping.
"THE FIRST thing we did was to implement all possible requirements to meet CATILECARE and Graincare.
"We used the manuals that were available to make sure that our farm activities covered all of their requirements.
We then built the EMS around them and the requirements for the ISO 14001 standard.
"Even though the certification does not cover QA, I believe that our system would cover all of the requirements for an auditable QA program such as ISO 9000. The process of using EMS made the implementation of soft systems such as CATTLECARE and Graincare easy.
"Another thing we did was consider our management practices in response to the use of residual chemicals in our sorghum crops. Both atrazine and metalachlor have been found 'off-farm' and obviously need addressing.
"We identified this during our environmental risk assessment and have since built some management practices that have been recommended by a group of researchers in Queensland (Robyn Connolly et al.) into the use of these chemicals.
"They play a huge role in growing sorghum and need very close attention if they are going to keep 'moving off-farm ' . These chemicals are too important to our continued growing of sorghum for us not to be worried about their impacts and to minimise that impact in the future."