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Beyond the Bale : March 2011
25 March 2011 BEYOND THE BALE ON-FARM but one of the difficulties I have as a young grower is understanding and interpreting what the impacts various changes will have on the whole farm, and the flow on effect through the business," Bindi says. "The extension networks play an important role in filling this knowledge gap, by providing a bridge between scientific advice and facts and the practical implications, and how to make it fit into your own production system. "I find communicating with other growers within the network and learning from what they are doing on their farms is important to help me plan for the season ahead. In fact I find that when I get off my farm it is easier to step back, assess what I could and should be doing and get a better idea of the full picture." MAKING MORE FROM SHEEP Bindi admits that while she has plenty of knowledge from a management theory perspective, she appreciates there is a big difference between theory and practice. As a result of this Bindi finds the Making More From Sheep manual a key decision making tool for use on her farm. "A lot of the principles within the manual are things Dad has always been doing, but sometimes when you're faced with a difficult decision it can help you prioritise your issues and reassess your options," Bindi says. "For example, we used to shear our prime lambs, Merino lambs and rams at the end of spring. Our aim was to reduce the grass seed burden in the lambs and ensure our rams were well prepared for mating in early February, straight after our main shearing, but we ended up with a split- shearing scenario. "A split-shearing program was at odds with the best practices for lice control, which requires a single shearing and clean muster, with every animal on the place treated for lice at much the same time. So, after considering our options with the help of the manual we shifted our production practices to shear in January." THE FUTURE Bindi says she is motivated on improving Kunmallup so that her eight month old son John may also want to return to the farm in due course. "In the short-term, I'm keen to improve the level of detail in my cost of production accounting and gross margin calculations so that I can get a better idea of how well each enterprise on the farm is performing. This will enable me to set adequate benchmarks and get the best mix of enterprises. "In 10 years' time I would hope to see more efficient farm practices and decision making, but more importantly I would like to see the farm continuing to become more productive and sustainable." Bindi's advice to other young growers when they are faced with a decision or challenge is for them to do their homework and make their own mind up. "I believe that if you have gone through the costs and benefits and made a decision, whatever the decision is, it will be a good, well informed decision." More information: www.wool.com/networks www.makingmorefromsheep.com Despite the opportunities which exist for the wool industry, Bindi believes the industry needs to overcome some challenges, especially the politics and some of the traditions. "Young people can see a future in wool, but they can get frustrated by some of the industry's more entrenched attitudes," Bindi says. "The industry needs to change its image and focus on the new technologies which are emerging for producers. We need to move away from outdated traditions and show young people we are an industry which is professional, modern and science based." With this in mind, Bindi embraces the importance of AWI initiatives, such as the state based producer networks and the Making More From Sheep program, which provide help and encouragement to woolgrowers wanting to enter or stay in the industry. EXTENSION NETWORKS Bindi is the youngest member of the producer advisory panel for The Sheep's Back, the AWI producer network in Western Australia. Along with the rest of the panel, she works with the executive team on developing extension activities to improve WA producers' adoption of profitability driven practices. The Sheep's Back currently has a network of 700 woolgrowers and aims to deliver increased profitability to members' sheep enterprises through greater understanding of the relevant profit drivers. "There is a lot of information out there, Bindi with eight month old son John. Bindi changed the time of shearing after reading the Making More From Sheep manual.