A focus on embracing new technology and the latest machinery, as well as keeping on top of finances, has seen young broadacre farmer Will Coulton recognised among the best in the industry.
The 31-year-old North Star farmer has been named one of three finalists for the 2017 NSW Farmer of the Year competition.
Will, with the help of his family – wife Trudi, 15-month-old daughter Ava, and parents Ben and Pru – runs a 12,000 hectare mixed farming operation across properties at North Star and Boggabilla.
With irrigated and dryland cropping, Coulton Farming produces wheat, barley and chickpeas in winter and cotton and sorghum in summer. They also have 600 Angus cows.
Strip rotations are in place that are not dictated by price, which allows them to concentrate on yield and strategic chemicals to combat resistance.
Although humble about the work he’s doing, Will said having a thorough understanding of the business is something that might set him apart from others.
“One of the most important things is to know where you are financially at all times during the year,” he said.
“If you have a well thought-out budget in place and monitor it on a monthly basis, it’ll allow you to keep moving forward with certainty, even through the dry times.”
The young farmer is a strong advocate for keeping up with the advances of technology, with Coulton Farming equipped with the all latest machinery and gadgets to “get jobs done quickly, efficiently and on time”.
“Technology definitely has a place in agriculture; if you fall behind it’s hard to catch up,” Will said.
“We are probably over-capitalised with machinery but it gives us the firepower to watch the weather and get things done on time in the right window.”
Will also credits his team of staff for contributing to the successful operation, as well as his wife Trudi and parents Ben and Pru, who are all heavily involved.
“Our 13 full-time staff are an experienced and well-balanced team,” he said.
“They’re excellent – we put a lot of trust in them and involve them in the decision-making on the farm on a daily basis.
“You’re only as good as your staff.”
Will was nominated for the NSW Farmer of the Year by James Fisher from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, someone he has never met in person.
“It’s very nice of him,” Will said.
Following a successful phone interview, Will was told he was a finalist for the prestigious award and last week received a visit from judges who inspected his property.
Will said while the nomination won’t change what he does, it’s great recognition for what is often a “thankless” job.
“I’m still going to get up early and do what I do every day but it’s nice to get a bit of recognition for what we do,” he said.
“I’m not doing anything amazingly different to anyone else. I’m just fortunate to be nominated.
“I’m very passionate about doing it. I’m very fortunate to go to work every day and love what I do.”
The NSW Farmer of the Year Award is a joint initiative by NSW Farmers and NSW Department of Primary Industries, supported by The Land newspaper and SafeWork NSW.
The award is designed to recognise excellence in farming within NSW, with a particular focus on acknowledging farmers who combine safe, environmentally sustainable practices with profitable production.
The 2017 winner, who will be announced at a presentation on December 11, will receive a $10,000 prize, while the remaining finalists will receive $2,000.