Growers group backed by science
A NEWLY established growers alliance is on a mission to promote cropping in Monto and diversify the district's agricultural economy.
The Monto Growers Group has the backing of agronomist Kendall Muller, who said both the market and science supported the new approach.
By pooling their expertise and sharing the latest farming practices, the growers hope to give their peers the knowledge and confidence they need to put more acres under crop.
Mr Muller believes the district's grazing country is not being exploited to its full potential and is encouraging more producers to make the switch.
"In years gone by there wasn't the returns in cropping that we're seeing now,” he said.
"(A lack of) financial incentives and uncertainty around how to grow crops might have stopped farmers investing.
"Grain prices and commodity prices are some of the highest we've ever seen and over the last 12 months pulse crops have been quite profitable.
"The prices seem to be holding for longer now, we're seeing more highs than lows now.
"We generally get pretty reliable rainfall, it's not too hot and it's not too cold.
"We've got better yield potential than areas further west, where in summer the hot weather can reduce the yield.
"There's a lot more potential to make some money now than there used to be.”
On an upcoming tour of the region's crops, the group will discuss the success of varieties currently in the ground, review plant populations, the fertilisers and herbicides farmers are using, and suggest rotations to follow the winter crops.
Barley, chickpeas and wheat form the bulk of Monto's winter crops, which are due for harvest in roughly six weeks.
Mr Muller said the growers group would provide an opportunity for farmers to explore new avenues and strengthen their operations.
"It's a chance for people to see what other farmers are doing,” he said.
"They can see what's working and what hasn't worked, and give them an idea of what crops can grow successfully in the district.
"People are more than welcome to come along if they're looking at getting into cropping or interested in talking to other growers about improving their farming practices.
"It's about networking more than anything - more heads are better than one.”