View from my verandah: Garry Kadwell

18 September 2015

Garry Kadwell is the epitome of the organised farmer. The seed potato grower, prime lamb producer and fodder trader operates in the challenging climate of Crookwell in the southern NSW Tablelands.

In this series where producers share their current challenges and the strategies to manage and grow their business, Garry shares how he makes the most of his 800mm annual winter/spring dominant rainfall to fill substantial feed gaps.

How do you manage such an intensive production system?

As seed potato growers we’re already locked into rotations so it’s about making the most of those to maximise our feed production. I plan a lot. I have a one-year plan, I make contingency plans to cope with seasonal or market upsets, and I have a five, 10 and 20-year plans.

How is the season shaping up?

We’ve had a really good finish to winter and start to spring and we’ve got a guaranteed hay cut. However, the longer term indication is for a dry spell and I think we’re going to have a short spring so that is what we’re preparing for.

What is your drought-proofing strategy?

Normally, I like to have at least two years or the equivalent of 20,000 small squares of hay on hand and what we don’t need, we sell.

I’m looking to increase that by an extra 50% by ploughing up some of our lighter performing country, normally used for grazing, and sowing Sudan grass, a fast growing, tropical species that produces a big bulk of feed for one hay cut. If spring does finish early we’ll be able to graze our lucerne paddocks, rather than shut them up for third and fourth hay cuts, as we’ll already have the extra hay we need.

With extra grazing area now designated for hay, where will you put stock?

Our first-cross ewes, which lambed in June/July, will graze smaller paddocks more intensively. They are sown with a high protein mix (about 20%) which includes Moby barley, Perun festulolium, a fescue/ryegrass hybrid, and Icon ryegrass.

What are some of your other practices?

It’s important to know your country well, watch your stock closely and be prepared to change what you’re doing to meet animals’ needs. I talk to seed companies all the time about what new varieties are out there and trial them to see if they will be beneficial for us.

More information

Garry Kadwell
garrykadwell@gmail.com

Watch a Farm300 video tutorial on managing climate variability 

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