Home > Kingaroy family achieves 25-year milestone as farming trial co-operators

Kingaroy family achieves 25-year milestone as farming trial co-operators

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article image Graham and Jeff Barbeler

A Kingaroy farming family has achieved a major career milestone this year, having completed 25 years of trialling pre-commercial and commercial crops on their farm in partnership with Pacific Seeds .

Father-and-son duo Graham and Jeff Barbeler partnered with seed company Pacific Seeds in 1993, planting several grain sorghum and corn varieties on their property. Describing the trials as hard work, Jeff Barbeler says it involves a lot of setup including using the right equipment, ensuring the machinery is clean when moving from one crop to another, and monitoring the conditions, which need to be consistent across all plots. However, the information they could extract from these trials has been invaluable.

Aside from labour and a section of their paddock, these trials don’t cost them anything but what they do get is an idea of which varieties work in their environment while the company gets data to feed back to its agronomists and breeders, and the wider industry can subsequently access this information.

The Barbelers are also able to respond correctly to queries about the varieties they plant since they have access to a whole lot of information from planting to harvesting including yield, chemical and rainfall data going back decades to support their decisions.

Their most recent trial was grain sorghum, which they planted in early December on 90cm rows with John Deere MaxEmerge planter boxes and moisture seeking tynes. They planted a total of 105 hectares of sorghum, which included their commercial crops of MR-Taurus, MR-Bazley and MR-Buster. These varieties also featured in trials alongside PAC2745, MR-Apollo and PAC2476.

Though the trial got off to a troubled start due to a powerful Boxing Day hailstorm, which wiped out the 10-inch high sorghum plants to the stump, they were surprised to see most of the crop come right back up. The Barbelers still managed a decent crop when they harvested the sorghum in May and recorded an average yield of 4t/ha.

Mr Barbeler said the standout variety for the 2017-18 trial was MR-Bazley, which seemed like a really hardy crop – tough, consistent and a good yielder.

Since they planted 60ha of corn later, it did not suffer like the sorghum.

Looking at the approaching summer season for their program, as well as beyond in their capacity as trial co-operators, he said they remained positive.

The Barbelers are planting MR-Bazley, MR-Buster and MR-Taurus as their commercial crops this season as well as some new hybrids for evaluation too.

The family is now looking forward to their 30-year milestone.

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