Grain grower Kit Leake, elected for a second term on the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) western regional panel, is enthused by projects underway to address key challenges facing his farming peers.
From Kellerberrin in Western Australia’s grainbelt, Mr Leake says he wears his farming hat on the panel and feels honoured to ‘represent the farmer’s viewpoint’.
“I bring practical experience to the panel and I feel that’s very important,” he said.
“This enables me to know what is really required in research and development from a farmer’s perspective, which is actually what the GRDC is all about.”
Mr Leake says the mix of professional skills represented on the GRDC’s regional panels has been critical to the success of the GRDC. The western regional panel incorporates a cross-section of grain growers, scientists and industry representatives.
“In my experience, the balance on the panel has worked very well, with about half of the panel being farmers and the other half bringing specialised skills,” he said.
Since joining the panel in 2012, Mr Leake said he had kept his ‘ears to the ground’ to ensure research priorities were driven from the ground up.
“Growers are instrumental in bringing to the GRDC ideas that are required for research and development,” he said.
“Otherwise they would be coming from the top end and would not necessarily be what farmers require.”
Mr Leake said the GRDC invested in projects centered on key issues.
“Big issues facing many producers across the industry are frost, non-wetting soils and sub-soil constraints,” he said.
“We are also looking seriously at how marginal areas can remain in the game profitability.
“I am very passionate about my fellow farmers in the marginal areas and the seasons have been very cruel to them.”
While still actively involved in the management of his family’s 3200 hectare farm at Kellerberrin, Mr Leake now lives in Perth while his daughter and son-in-law run the day-to-day operations.
They grow a mixture of wheat, barley, lupins and canola each year.
Running a 100 per cent farming enterprise, Mr Leake says he has enjoyed concentrating on crops for the past seven years.
In particular, he is focused on soil health.
“Soil health is most important, because if your soil health is not correct it doesn’t matter how much rain or fertiliser you have.
“So I have been addicted to lime since I first heard about it.”
Mr Leake said soil tests have been instrumental to achieving optimal pH levels on the farm, and have been conducted right down to a depth of 30 centimetres.
“I am confident this has made us far more productive and sustainable,” he said.
Members of the GRDC western regional panel serve two-year terms, feeding grower concerns, ideas and priorities into the GRDC and assessing funding proposals for RD&E in key priority areas.
Mr Leake says that the one per cent levy that farmers contribute to the GRDC is critical to industry RD&E.
“It is the goal of the GRDC that the farmer levy is the best investment they make,” he said.
“I know from my farming experience that if there hadn’t been a lot of research carried out, we would be miles behind in the game.”
Mr Leake has also been involved with the Wallatin Wildlife Inc, the Kellerberrin Demonstration Group, the WA No Tillage Farmers Association and the Kondinin Group.
Kit Leake- 0428 459 031
Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827