David won the 2019 YEN Bronze Award with the best field yield of 14.8 t/ha.
What made you want to be a part of the YEN competition?
What prompted me to join YEN was to initially look at what it was all about but then the big factor was the traffic light system indicating your yield potential, anywhere from not very good and you should pack up farming to full potential. It was a reassurance as to the job I was doing and to benchmark how well I was doing.
What is your biggest challenge to achieve a high yield?
I’ve learnt that the biggest challenge is me. Yen has proven that a key part of this is the farmer factor and about a third is down to season and weather, but it is about what I do as a farmer and what I learn from YEN and other sources to improve yield.
What is your crop management strategy?
There are two things, think long-term, there is a huge amount of potential on the day you plant the seed bed but check the nutrition and soil characteristics and then it is about tinkering and adjusting strategies as you go. I usually plan years ahead in terms of cropping on that field or the animals I will have on it. This is a long-term strategy in improving farm processes and result in increasing yields.
David collecting his Bronze Award from Nick Poole, Managing Director, Foundation for Arable Research, Australia
What have you learnt from YEN?
I understand the importance of me as the farmer, improving nutrition, checking biomass and so on. The YEN reports have over 70 analyses of your entry and provide plenty to think about and I am still learning.
Which experiences will help you make the biggest difference?
I think the biggest difference has been my evolution and opening my horizons to new tools and tactics. What is important is to recognise that region and soil type limitations can be overcome, just look at last years results (2018). The top 10 entries are randomly spread around the country. It is not about where or what you farm, it is how you do it. You find each year the high performers gravitate towards the top of the rankings and it’s up to me to do a good job but also learn from them.
What is the best thing about YEN?
You receive a 24-page document with analysis of your entry, with all sorts of information. Some is relevant information, possibly parts are not but we don’t know which bits to dismiss and that’s where this learning journey starts. You also have the YEN database, with 350 entries this year (2019), mine feeds into that and it has a cumulative effect to bear out the good and bad practices.