Farming began with an information harvest
GroundCover™ Issue: 118 | 31 Aug 2015 | Author: Sarah Clarry
Lyn Brazil came to grain cropping by choice. He did not grow up with it or have a parent or relative to direct him. Instead, he was a poultry farmer whose wider interest in farming and the landscape saw him make the switch to grains and cotton in 1986.
When he married his wife Bobbie, the pair lived around Killarney and Warwick, in Queensland, for 20 years. He also ran a stockfeed business before buying ‘Anchorfield’ and moving over to the Brookstead property in 1988.
During this time, Lyn says, he got more deeply involved in agriculture. He was building commercial properties in Brisbane throughout the same period, a business interest in which he is still actively involved.
Being largely self-taught, Lyn relied on diverse sources for his information in his early days of farming: “When I started I knew nothing,” he says. “I relied on the blokes working for me to tell me what to do, and going to the pub and talking to people.
“We used to have a Department of Primary Industries book that came every year – the summer cropping and winter cropping guides – and that was my bible.”
The farming extension officers were another valuable source of information. “Every grower has their own experience and knowledge – if that can be shared around that is good for the industry.
“I’ve always been a believer in public research and in publicly owned knowledge. There are things to be learnt that don’t result in a commercial product or patentable knowledge.”
His commitment to research and extension has seen him become a member of the GRDC Northern Panel and, in the early days, chair a farming systems institute.
Lyn is continuing his involvement in GRDC research by hosting the core experiment of the Northern Farming Systems Initiative.
Dr Lindsay Bell, from CSIRO, is leading this research, which is examining how performance can be improved by modifying existing farming systems, rather than trying to develop new systems.
The project – large in scale and scope – aims to tease apart the key aspects of agronomic management to determine what changes in farming systems will increase system efficiency.
In the search for a sizeable core site for this project, Lyn’s Brookstead property ticked all the boxes. It was a site where researchers could run a complicated experiment in a manageable way, they could trial a range of farming systems representative of the northern grains region, and with a trial cooperator very supportive of the work.
The core site is complemented by six regional sites from Trangie in central-west New South Wales through to Emerald in Central Queensland, which are comparing modifications to locally relevant systems. The Northern Farming Systems Initiative is a partnership involving CSIRO, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
Lyn says he is not seeking any specific outcome from the Northern Systems Farming Initiative, but that he supports the research effort in general.
“I’ve always believed that you can’t be competitive without getting better, and you can’t get better without better knowledge, which comes from research.”
GRDC Project Code CSA00050, DAQ00192
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