Thursday, January 6, 2011

Short drive off the edge of a cliff

Leaving Brads full of enthusiasm and heading to Charlie Hiltons I encountered my first grass hopper storm - driving along thinking about what I had seen at Brads and what I was going to ask Charlie, bug hits the windscreen - thud, and then another and another until the windscreen is just a smeary bug juicy mess, the road is covered and I was concerned for the cars radiator!

My farmer sponsorship group - BOGS suggested I visit Charlie whilst I was over here - a popular member of their worshipful company of farmers management course. I arrived at a house which resembled an oppulent vineyard, was handed a beer (and an afterthought token glass of water) and we sat down to chat - 3 hours a plate of nibbles and several beers later we had established where each of us was on our quest to balance our nutrition - Charlie is about 10 years in front so I had a lot to gain!

Then we set off in the 'toy' a V8 Landcruiser modified with a canopy for rabbit shooting and goes like it off a shovel - as demonstrated. While Charlie was pointing out a farm feature I spied a pit in front of us, about 60 metres long, 40 metres wide and 8 meters deep - it dawned on me Charlie did not appear to be stearing us around this cavern but straight at it 'this blokes bloody mad' breifly passed through my mind, rapidly overtaken by 'he must have done this before' followed by 'oh Sh******t'.

Anyway, Charlie applies liquid starter ferts through his drilland then applys further nutrition as the plant requires it following sap tests through the season. Charlie mixes up his own recipes from Chinese imported 'raw ingredients' in tanks with stirers and either applies it through the drill, boom sprayer or a mister attached to a cotton picker. Charlie is growing Lucerne for seed, some cereals, canola and cattle. Charlie is farming a sandy soil over limestone which is a 'non wetting soil' you pour on water and it doesn't sink in, it just sits there - looks a bit like liquid metal - the water then evapourates off - some gets into the soil through small cracks but most simply disappears.

The one draw back of the system seems to be that adding calcium to naturally acidic systems encourages snails - looked more like a plague to me - they completly cover fence posts, standing stubble, trees, it's a bit freaky.

1 comment:

  1. Andrew 'Johno' Johnsons place at Tintinara, S Australia is the same on the snail front. Lucerne grown for seed on light ground and white snails everywhere, most visible on the fenceposts.
    He's worth a chat on the soils front (he's in the nuff directory)