Profits in patience

It can take 10 years and more to breed and release a new crop variety, probably longer for a planted windbreak to become effective, and quite a few years to correct some soil disorders such as acidity.

These examples illustrate the patience needed in primary production, a trait highlighted recently by Kate O'Brien of Agriculture Victoria, Horsham.

She said a Victorian farmer who had erosion-prone and hard-setting soils decided to reduce cultivations, use different points and retain stubble to try to overcome these soil-related problems. The change worked, his yields improving by 1 t/ha compared to more exploitative farming practices.

"The annual impact now on profit is $122/ha or $60,000 for the farm," Ms O'Brien said. "But the farmer reported that it took five years before the conservation farming change had a noticeable impact on yields."

Contact: Ms Kate O'Brien 03 5362 2111