Sunmax wheat variety the star on Drillham farm

Nixon families spirits buoyed ahead of winter crop harvest at Jay Dee

Grains
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The past couple of years have been a tough slog for Drillham district farmer Alex Nixon, Jay Dee, but to his delight, this season has been a positive and he is in better spirits ahead of harvest time.

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Ali, Robyn, Eddie and Archie Nixon, Jay Dee, Drillham, inspect their Sunmax wheat with the help of family pet, Indie. The crop was planted in April and the family is looking forward to the returns after harvest in October.

Ali, Robyn, Eddie and Archie Nixon, Jay Dee, Drillham, inspect their Sunmax wheat with the help of family pet, Indie. The crop was planted in April and the family is looking forward to the returns after harvest in October.

Like many farmers, the past couple of cropping years have been a tough slog for Drillham district farmer Alex Nixon, Jay Dee.

But to his delight, this season has been a positive one and he is in better spirits ahead of harvest time.

Mr Nixon - who farms in partnership with his wife Ali, mother Robyn and brother Tom in conjunction with the Devon Court Hereford stud - said he is looking forward to this year's wheat harvest and the better return.

A 2017 Nuffield farming scholar, Mr Nixon planted 700 hectares of Sunmax wheat along with the Lancer and Suntop varieties over a combined area of 1600 hectares.

"We had 25 millimetres in March, which set us up beautifully for our April 15 planting," he said.

"We have already forward sold 500 tonnes at upwards of $300/tonne to Feed Grains who supply the feedlot industry."

The balance will be marketed post-harvest in October.

Mr Nixon said over the past couple of seasons, it was tough enough just to get a strike rate after planting.

"We certainly have had to be creative to keep the cash flow coming in, but we did okay," he said.

"It was so much easier this growing season, and now we are looking for a better return.

"Our only step back has been the mice, and we baited."

Mr Nixon is the third generation of his family to farm near Drillham, and with a young family of his own, has a desire to leave his property in good condition for future generations.

It was this desire that became the motivation for his Nuffield research. "Successful, sustainable farming businesses depend on the health of their soils," he said.

"Sown after completion of a cash crop, a multi-species cover crop can greatly enhance soil health by boosting biodiversity, ground cover and soil organic matter."

Since taking over the farming in 2006, Mr Nixon has been gradually making the shift towards zero-till practices, better soil management and ultimately, improved soil health.

Mr Nixon will plant about 500ha of summer sorghum, and leave a good percentage of his country in long fallow for next winter.

Brothers Archie Nixon 8, and Eddie 7, are standing proudly in a crop of Sunmax wheat Jay Dee near Drillham.

Brothers Archie Nixon 8, and Eddie 7, are standing proudly in a crop of Sunmax wheat Jay Dee near Drillham.

The Nixon family aren't the only ones experiencing buoyed spirits, if the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences is any indication.

Queensland's wheat crop is forecast to more than double that of 2019, with 1.1 million tonnes expected to come off this season.

The area of wheat planted however was revised downward by 17 per cent from the forecast in ABARES' June report, estimated to be 750,000 hectares.

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