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Spring 2015

Wayne David Leading The Fleet

Wayne Davis is a man who takes pride in his work and likes doing it well. Originally, he worked for one of Australia’s leading meat processors at their Mackay plant before it changed hands in the mid-90s. Following some restructuring of the company under the new ownership, redundancy packages were offered to some employees in 1996, and Wayne took one. Faced with the decision of what to do next, Wayne chose to have a go at contract mowing, and, to that effect, he purchased his first tractor that same year. The business has grown to include 18 tractors at present, and in the high season of, roughly, October to June, Wayne is able to give employment to up to 16 people.

Wayne’s fleet of mowing contract tractors do a variety of large scale jobs, including the maintenance of Queensland Rail railway corridors, Ergon Energy access tracks along high voltage power lines and some of the Central Coast section of the Bruce Highway and Peak Downs Highway, in addition to a variety of work for different Regional Councils. The team covers the more than 250 kilometres that separate Proserpine from St Lawrence, south of Mackay, and they may get inland as far as Moranbah, almost 160 kilometres west of Mackay. This type of maintenance work, which may go by largely unnoticed by the general public at times, is not merely cosmetic. On the contrary, it keeps motorists, the community at large and Queensland Rail and Ergon workers safer by improving visibility and reducing hazards, and it can contribute to faster and less dangerous emergency rescue operations, for instance by providing areas where helicopters may land safely.

Wayne’s line of work can have operators sitting in a tractor cabin for 10 or 12 hours a day in the busy season. In that situation, a comfortable environment can make a huge difference, and Wayne says that ‘diesel operation in comfort’ is just one of the reasons why he chose John Deere tractors. This comfort relates not only to the ergonomic seat and other aspects of the inside of the cabin, but also to how quiet it is inside. Wayne likes the fact that, with the Deere’s Bluetooth connectivity and the noise insulation, he can ‘take a phone call in the cab with the motor at full rev and having a normal conversation is no problem’.

When asked what other reasons he has for choosing John Deere, Wayne comments that, initially, he ‘looked around and saw that nearly every successful farmer had a Deere in his shed’. His own experience is that his John Deere tractors are very reliable, a highly valued feature in a business where ‘you can’t afford breakdowns, because it is very hard to catch up later on’. For Wayne, ‘settling for poor quality translates to more expenses in the long run’. He also finds the visibility when operating the machine to be excellent, making his job both easier and safer. Last but not least, the John Deere Full Frame chassis means that he has no problems getting in and out of drains and other difficult places that can ‘flex the machine a lot’.

Wayne takes pride in maintaining his machines. To that effect, he communicates to his operators the short and long term advantages of keeping the cabin clean, the outside ‘clean and polished’ and the engine well maintained, and expects them to work to that standard. They do a lot of the mechanical maintenance themselves, and for breakdowns he has two mobile mechanics, or the equipment can also be brought down to their shed. In all his business dealings, Wayne always does his best to buy locally, supporting other local businesses, and he has found the Vanderfield Mackay dealership to be very reliable, providing whatever parts may be needed in a timely manner and offering good back up.

One of the satisfactions that Wayne has always been able to find in his job is to look back at the end of the day and see the change his work has made, knowing that he has made a positive contribution to his commu- nity. We wish him and his team a very successful and satisfactory upcoming season, and many more to come.

Rice Shine

AS NEW CROP OPTION FOR NORTH AND CENTRAL QUEENSLAND

While rice is traditionally associated with Asia, which commits 90 per cent of its agricultural land to growing the crop and consumes 90 per cent of global production, Australia plays an important role in the international rice industry. Through global food business SunRice, Australia provides enough rice to feed over 20 million people in more than 60 countries across the Middle East, North America, Asia and more every day. In a non-drought year, Australia is able to export about 80 per cent of the rice it produces, which represents around two per cent of the world trade and an impressive 25 per cent of the medium grain trade.

Commercial production of rice in Australia began in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) of Southern New South Wales in 1924 to 1925. In 1930 the Australian Rice Growers Association (RGA) was formed to protect local growers’ interests and secure the future prosperity of the rice industry. An important focus of RGA was to build infrastructure that would enable members to mill and market their own rice, which saw the formation of Ricegrowers’ Cooperative in 1950 – now commonly known as SunRice, which operates under a company structure. Today, SunRice is one of the world’s largest rice food companies with operations and staff in Papua New Guinea, the Solomons, Japan, the Middle East and the United States, as well as in Australia.

In the late 1940s, as a result of a severe world-wide shortage in rice production during the Second World War years, Australian rice growing areas expanded to include parts of the NSW and Victoria Murray Valley. The industry continued to grow, and the number of farm businesses growing rice in the MIA and Murray Valley combined has grown from around 900 in 1955 to over 1,500 today. These growers hold the impressive records of using 50 per cent less water in their rice production, from paddock to plate, and produce more high quality product per hectare than the global average.

The Australian rice industry is a leader among agricultural industries when it comes to environmental management, known for its work in proactively adopting a range of air, soil, and wildlife practices. Antony Vagg is a man who knows the industry well, as a fourth generation rice grower who currently also serves as the Operations and Technical Services Manager of Rice Research Australia, a subsidiary of SunRice. Antony spends a significant amount of his time in Queensland, as SunRice is currently offering sugarcane farmers from Central QLD to Tully the opportunity to grow rice during their fallow land periods. Crop rotation is widely practiced by Australian rice growers, as it includes a number of benefits both for the crops (e.g. natural pest control) and the soil, taking about 115 days from planting to harvest. Queensland farmers can grow these rice rotation crops either during the wet season (planting in December to January and harvest in April to May) or the dry season (planting from June and harvest in November to December), depending on location.

SunRice is firmly committed to expanding the rice industry in Queensland, having last year acquired the Blue Ribbon Rice Mill in the Burdekin and recently purchasing a rice planter for growers in the Mackay and Proserpine area to increase their planting capacity while saving them significant outlay costs. The three-metre John Deere planter is a popular choice amongst rice growers due to their excellent seed placement precision. To Antony’s pleasure the planter was quickly procured through the Vanderfield Mackay team with ‘excellent service and backup’.

SunRice has expanded its operations to Central and North Queensland to complement its existing supply of rice from the Riverina region, so it can meet demand for the annual 1.15 million tonnes of rice it has markets secured for. Because of its favourable climatic condition, water supply and reliability, North Queensland is regarded as one of the most promising rice-growing areas outside of the Riverina.

While many rice growing regions around the world grow rice in flooded ‘paddy’ bays, in Central and North Queensland it is mainly being grown in an aerobic system, using raised bed furrow irrigation and sprinkler irrigation. These irrigation methods have been trialled by SunRice for the past eight years in the Central and North Queensland regions, with results close to traditional paddy irrigation systems. As these methods don’t require laser levelling or earthworks to build a paddy system, it means rice can easily fit into existing cropping systems. With its short, four-month growing period, aerobically grown rice also adds security for farmers as it enables them to grow two crops in one year if they wish.

Aerobic rice is well suited to the northern climate, where a few different types of rice aimed at a niche, high-value market can be grown, including some medium grain varieties of rice and a number of specialty long grain varieties, including a jasmine fragrant rice.

The expansion of the rice industry into Queensland is an exciting opportunity for Central and Northern based famers, as rice offers the opportunity to enhance their off-harvest growing options. Crop rotation with rice as a secondary crop will benefit growers not only by improving the bottom line of their operation, but by enhancing soil health and decreasing disease breakouts with reduced chemical usage, while only having to do a few adjustments to pre-existing beds. For more information, or to explore this option further, expressions of interest are welcomed through Antony Vagg on 0437 862 428. For any enquiries on planters, all your John Deere and VNET needs, or to service your HINO truck, contact the Mackay team on 4966 3300 or ring 1300 VANDER for your nearest Vanderfield team.

HINO a big hit on station

HINO’S range of light, medium and heavy-duty trucks is available from Vanderfield Toowoomba. Sales representative Ross Nunn says Hino is one of the fastest growing truck brands available. “Our sales team is enthusiastic about the Hino brand because of its inherent quality, durability and reliability,” he said. “We recently sold two Hino trucks to be used at Alexandria Station, situated in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.” Alexan- dria Station, on the Barkly Tableland, was acquired by North Australian Pastoral Company in 1877.

Occupying an area of 16,116 square kilometres of open plains, floodplain and wooded sandhills, the property has a herd of about 55,000 cattle and harvests some 10,000 bales of hay a year.

Cattle and stock trucks

In February, manager Stephen Bryce took delivery of a new Hino FG 1628 Cattle Truck and a Hino GH 1728 Stock Truck. “I use the FG 1628 for day- to-day operations that are all on dirt roads and Narda Grover, station services co-ordinator, uses the GH 1728 to transport horses to campdrafting events across the country,” he said. “The Hino is a good, reliable bush truck, easy to maintain and with readily available spare parts. “Different dealers sell trucks that are all very similar but when it comes to getting spare parts Vanderfield Darwin to Kununurra to Roma to Toowoomba has it covered without a problem.”

Ms Grover is a strong competitor in the Ladies Open Campdraft events and is a big Hino fan. “This is the second Hino I have purchased as a personal truck from Vanderfield,” she said. “Their after-sales service is most impressive and I feel Vanderfield has gone the extra mile to assist me in any kind of dealings I have had with them.”

“My new Hino purchased this year is even better than my old one because it is loaded with modern, improved features. The feature I like the best in the new truck is the electric-lift cab as now I don’t have to struggle when lifting the cab to check the motor.”

Touch screen

“Oh, I almost forgot – the touch screen radio is pretty cool too!” Both the Hino FG 1628 and the GH 1728 have 7.6 litre turbocharged engines, a 6220mm wheelbase, two x 400- litre long-range alloy tanks, four-point floating suspension cabins, suspension driver and passenger seats.

The sales team at Vanderfield Toowoomba have long-term experience in the trucking industry and are dedicated to ensuring customers get the right truck for their needs. All genuine Hino parts fitted by Vanderfield come with a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

Excellence in Garden Maintenance

Larry Frohloff has lived in the South Burnett region of Kingaroy for most of his life. After completing school and a butcher apprenticeship, Larry also owned and operated his own Butchery in Kingaroy. In his spare time, he took a lot of pride in his gardens, lawn and yard. After approx. 18 years in the Butchery game, Larry found the outdoors beckoning and a bit more than two years ago he decided to do what he loved the most and started his own gardening business, Kingaroy Yard Services.

Larry’s services cover the wide range of needs that most customers would have, including general mowing and even slashing of larger plots, lawn weed control, pruning, mulching and general tidying up of yards. He tailors his work to the customers’ needs and wishes and to each season’s requirements, and he works with a variety of clients, residential or commercial, from regular town blocks to acreage, covering the Kingaroy, Wondai and Nanango areas. His clients appreciate his friendly, high-quality and very professional approach, and they seem to love looking at their nicely maintained garden after Larry finishes almost as much as Larry himself does!

The latest addition to Larry’s Kingaroy Yard Services equipment is a John Deere S240 Sport ride-on mower that he purchased from Gary Beutel and the ‘very informative’ team at Vanderfield Gatton. Larry chose John Deere for reliability, as he had an L110 that was still going strong after 10 years. Larry thinks that his S240 Sport is a ‘brilliant, strong machine’, and he really appreciates how well its catcher works in smaller yards. Other valuable features are its great ‘ease of operation’, how its ‘good-sized 42inch deck’ makes it a perfect fit for the majority of his clients’ needs and, importantly, how easy it is for him to service it himself.

With longer and warmer conditions as spring approaches, gardens will soon begin to need extra attention and more frequent maintenance. Larry is now taking in new customers in his area for the upcoming season, so if you would like to enjoy a beautifully maintained garden with precious little effort on your part, or if there are certain jobs that your garden needs done but you would rather someone else did them, contact him on 0413 302 899 for an obligation-free quote, or, alternatively, email him at any time on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Larry wishes to thank all his clients for helping make his business venture very enjoyable and successful.

Precision Farming in Sarina

The North Queensland town of Sarina, that was the administrative capital of the Shire of Sarina from 1 January 1912 to its amalgamation with the City of Mackay and the Shire of Mirani on the 15 March 2008, boasts some interesting statistics. Notably, the Sarina State High School holds the rather impressive record of having produced four State of Origin and International Rugby League representatives to date, namely Dale Shearer, Kevin Campion, Martin Vella and Wendell Sailor (who also was an International Rugby Union Rep).

Sarina is also well known for a number of key industries, however, notably sugar cane growing and milling (plus ethanol distilling), cattle grazing and agriculture. Graham Matsen is a man who knows some of these industries well. His parents were into cattle and sugar production, so he was ‘born into it’, but he worked for fifteen years as a fitter and turner, travelling in and out of mining and gas producing towns. When his father retired in the year 2000, Graham was presented with the ‘good opportunity’ of taking over the farm, and he accept- ed it. He has never looked back.

Graham’s farm is now mostly centred around sugar cane production and cattle on what he describes as a ‘medium-size’ farm. Later purchasing another small farm, he diversified into macadamia production as a hedge against the peaks and troughs of the sugar industry. Graham planted and sprays the 6000 tree orchard using the GPS technology. While he reflects that farming ‘has never been easy’, Graham also recognises that ‘technology has made it easier’. The first advantage of using precision farming technology that Graham mentions is that ‘it keeps the cost down’. Graham explains that this is because there is less overlap with precision farming, which means less waste, or reduced input costs, plus it saves labour costs. Another significant advantage is that the technology is ‘quite user-friendly’. Graham’s John Deere 6125R tractor is equipped with a StarFire (SF2) GPS and a variety of operators ranging from Graham’s father, who is in his 80’s and bought his first John Deere in 1957, to a 17 year old inexperienced worker, ‘have used it, with no issues at all’.

Graham is very appreciative of the support he receives from Vanderfield Mackay and is very pleased with the ‘strong presence’ that John Deere now has in the area thanks to the branch. In addition, he is starting to use more of the features associated with precision farming technology and, to that effect, he recently attended a half-day training session organised by Vanderfield Precision Farming Specialist Andrew Speed in the Mackay area.

One of the possible future developments for growers like Graham and others in his area could be upgrading GPS machine control systems from differential satellite corrections to more accurate Real Time Kinematic (or RTK) corrections from a local “base station”. As Andrew explains, Vanderfield has to date constructed 27 base stations around Queensland in those farming areas where the investment is viable. Corrections from the base station are transmitted to machines operat- ing within a 20km radius via a constant radio link, effectively meaning that a constant line of site needs to be maintained. This presents a challenge in undulating topography for Vanderfield owned base stations to cover multiple customer farms, which often means investment by the grower to have their own on-farm base station infrastructure.

In terms of precision, Andrew points out that the technique used by base stations, Real Time Kinematic (or RTK), uses StarFire signals to offer repeatable signal of 2cm. In comparison, the SF2 signal currently used by Graham’s receiver offers 5 cm pass to pass accuracy whereas SF1 provides 23 cm pass to pass. As Graham sees it, this increased accuracy is the main advantage of having a base station, as cost to the user would not be much different to the annual John Deere subscription to SF2 signal from satellites.

Regarding technical support, Graham is covered by the Vanderfield Technical Assistance Centre (VTAC) service, which includes round the clock technical support, seven days a week. With this service, any operator in need of support can ring a 1300 number, and the call is either directed to the Vanderfield call centre or, if it happens outside of business hours, to the JD Stellar Support Customer Call Center in America. Ninety per cent of issues are able to be solved remotely, but Vanderfield also has technicians who are sent when on-site support is needed.

Graham’s three children are all grown up now and have found their own paths in life, but he wonders whether the innovation found in precision farming could ‘entice a younger generation’ of farmers to come back to the land. In the meantime, he is one of many farmers of all ages who have successfully and painlessly incorporated technology to their operation, and are reaping its benefits. If you would like to find out more about what Vanderfield has to offer in this area, please contact us on 1300 VANDER or your nearest branch.