Why is Minnipa farmer Bruce Heddle (left) arm-wrestling Minnipa Agricultural Centre operations manager, Mark Bennie, in a sorghum summer crop?

Two men in a field

Why is Minnipa farmer Bruce Heddle (left) arm-wrestling Minnipa Agricultural Centre operations manager, Mark Bennie, in a sorghum summer crop? Just demonstrating the friendly rivalry driving the Most Profitable Farming Systems Competition between farmers and researchers now getting into gear at the research centre.

Says Mr Heddle: "The farmer team is interested in using summer rainfall; summer weeds lose their excitement real quick. The return could pay for herbicides. But is it a silly idea? The only way to test it is to try it." So they're growing 3 hectares of sorghum to start their bid in the competition.

What else is important? He says nutrition is a big issue. "If we sort out phosphorus and trace elements, then N may emerge more clearly." He's trialing fluid fertiliser on his place. He's also very aware there's a lack of diversity in many local farming operations which are "very locked into wheat on wheat. A profitable livestock operation would open things up —for instance, bring oats back in".

As for farming systems programs, "an integrated approach has got to be superior. I think it will become the standards method for research".