Farmer in Focus – Zac Taylor

Can you give us a bit of background on your farm?

I farm at Lubeck, south of Murtoa, on the Wimmera river with my uncle (Peter), my father (Ian) my brother (Cameron) and cousin (Charlie). We run a full continuous cropping program and with a flexible rotation.

I have been farming full time for about six years after doing two years of a Certificate III in engineering and completing a farm-based apprenticeship at the family farm while I was at school.

What was 2019 like on the farm?

We had a very good year, it was probably the best harvest I’ve seen since I’ve been on the farm full-time, in terms of yields and prices. We were lucky, you didn’t have to look too far from us to see farmers who had a tough year.

What has been happening on the farm since harvest?

Since harvest I’ve been on the farm unloading silo bags and cleaning grain. We spent two weeks washing down the machines. We had two headers with new seed destructors, so we’ve been doing some maintenance work on them. Using the seed destructors has also meant we have been able to get straight on to renovating wheel tracks this year, instead of having to wait until just before sowing when we can burn chaff lines.

Going into 2020, what are your plans for the farm?

As well as working for the family farm with dad and Peter, Cameron, Charlie and I have our own share farm with a neighbour, and we have just recently purchased a block outside of Stawell. A major plan for us in 2020 is to convert that block from pasture to cropping, which is going to involve soil sampling, soil conditioning and pulling out fences.

This is the first big jump for me, Cameron and Charlie. It presents its own challenges, but we made the decision to head that way after looking at the soil type capabilities and rainfall in that area. They usually get about 100mm more rain annually than we do at Lubeck.

What are your goals for the farm going forward?

My goal for the farm is for it to continue to grow the business and to remain profitable.

My personal goal as a farmer is to continue to learn as much as I can. I’m still quite a young farmer, so my focus is on learning and transitioning the farm so that myself, Cameron and Charlie are taking on more responsibility going into the future.

What are some of the opportunities and challenges you see for farming in the future?

Some of the opportunities I see are around new technology in agriculture, including camera ready sprayers, variable rate technology and increasingly accurate paddock mapping. I think they present opportunities as money saving areas or as ways to increase profit.

I think one of the challenges for our farm is to continue to work cohesively as a family business. One of our goals is to continue to farm as one business and, with the business now including two families, we set up a board last year to keep us all on the same track.

Any final messages?

As someone in the early stages of my career, I’ve found that going to as many of the field days and events as possible is important. Some of the time everything will be brand new and you’ll learn heaps, other times you’ll be sitting there thinking that you’ve heard all this before, but seeing your neighbours and bouncing ideas off them is always really helpful.

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