Business Rural Autumn 201

46 | Chemical resistance worries crop farmers Photos: Hybrid radishes (top) grown by Mid Canterbury arable farmer David Birkett. Peas direct drilled into a cover crop. Richard Loader A l ways deeply interested in growing things and how they grow, Mid-Canterbury arable farmer David Birkett is the third generation to tend the land that has been in his immediate family for ninety years. “I’ve always enjoyed working out why things happen which leads me into doing research, so I’ve always had an affiliation with science and research. It’s not just growing a crop, it’s what drives the growing process for each crop and what drives the yield. At the end of the day we’re seed farmers, more than cropping farmers, and yield is pretty important.” Located on the Canterbury Plains near the township of Leeston, between the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers, the Birkett’s family farm encompasses 180 hectares of dead flat and fully irrigated land. Lambs are traded during the winter but in the summer all 180 hectares of the farm are utilised for arable farming. Over the years the Birkett’s focus has shifted from being commodity farmers growing standard crops like peas, wheat and barley to a much more diverse range of crops including herbage, rye grasses and clovers and vegetable seeds. Much of the Birkett’s market is overseas based with multiplications of grass, clover, radish, cab- bage and beet seeds going back to the Northern Hemisphere. ARABLE » Birkett Farming “The Northern Hemisphere sends seed to the Southern Hemisphere where it’s grown and multiplied up. For example they will send 100kg of ryegrass seed and get 25,000kg back in time for their summer, halving a Northern Hemisphere company’s breeding programme.” Grasses and clovers will also go into the do- mestic market for the pastoral industry and wheat is grown partly for the beer brewing industry with the balance going to the feed market. Peas and beans are grown under contract for Watties, as well as grown for seed. With David’s parents semi retired and living on the farm, David and his wife Justine farm together undertaking all their own harvesting, cropping and spraying work, other than peas and beans grown on contract for Watties. “We don’t employ anyone on the farm at all, mainly for simplicity of operation, but at times it does make it a heavy workload,” says David. Reflecting on key challenges faced by the industry David says from a seed production point of view, one of the biggest challenges faced by arable farmers is chemical resistance. “Ryegrass becoming resistant to some of the grass killers we use is the key one. As an industry we’re just working through the best way to manage that. Using different chemical group and rotating them is one option but it’s also using cultural techniques, like getting the seeds to strike and then removing them with cultivation or other techniques. • to page 47 “Ryegrass becoming resistant to some of the grass killers we use is the key one. As an industry we’re just working through the best way to manage that. Using different chemical group and rotating them is one option but it’s also using cultural techniques, like getting the seeds to strike and then removing them with cultivation or other techniques.” Services and Solutions • Irrigation • Pivots • Drainage • Plumbing • Effluent • Stock Water • Pump s • Water Reticulation • Servicing • 24/7 Breakdown Call 03 324 3880 canterbury@thinkwater.co.nz · www.thinkwatercanterbury.co.nz • Concrete • Fertiliser Spreading - Farm Mapping - GPS Tracking - Varible Rate Spreading • Livestock Cartage • Grain Cartage • Shingle Supplies • Daily Freight Leeston: 03 3248 070 Dunsandel: 03 3254 039 reception@ellesmere.co.nz Proudly supporting Birkett Farming Ltd. 027 785 8351 coreyduckmanton@hotmail.com P SRS 03 302 8115 email: nzoffice@spsnz.co.nz Proud to be working with Birkett Family Farms SOUTH PACIFIC SEEDS ( NZ ) LTD Specialists in Hybrid Vegetable Seed Production

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