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"The Maynards at Willydah"

An Australian CROPPING CASE STUDY

Bruce grew up farming with his parents. He remembers hearing stories about earlier farmers in their region stopping the machinery mid-field as they were ‘just dragging too many worms’. He always had an appreciation of nature and an inquiring and creative mind. Through a strong sense of curiosity and a bit of luck in his early farming years, Bruce was able to change the trajectory of his family farm, and paradigms of cropping.

While in high school, Bruce visited the American Midwest as a Rotary exchange student, and was surprised to see that even with resources that ‘we would only dream of having here in Australia’, farms were still financially going under. This early experience transformed how Bruce thought about productivity, profitability, and long-term resilience, and led him to search for ways to decouple productivity from profitability in his farming practices.

In the late 1980s, Bruce noticed similar tensions emerging in Australia, so he began searching for other options. Bruce and his parents undertook Whole Farm Planning in 1991 and Bruce found planning for a hundred-year outcome an infinitely useful prompt to ‘truly imagine something beyond his whole lifetime’ for their grazing and cropping farm.

A profound shift also happened after taking Stan Parson’s time-controlled grazing course in 1994. By implementing and expanding these grazing practices, Bruce and his parents saw the ‘whole grass layer’ transform, with the family observing plants and trees establishing that they had never seen on the property. However, when the time came for cropping – which used direct drilling – Bruce couldn’t bring himself to take the increasingly diverse grassland ‘back to zero’ by cropping in a way that negated all the diversity and production increases that were being gained by the changes in grazing management.

So, Bruce sold all his cropping machinery, and created a small ‘interim’ machine out of a double disc unit fitted to old seed delivery equipment, which could be pulled behind the ute to plant directly in the grassland. As luck would have it, they trialled the machine in January 1996 at a completely dry time, with the discs placing the seed about 1cm beneath the ground. And when the autumn rains came, it became ‘abundantly clear’ that sowing dry allowed the planted cereals to compete strongly with all the other plants, and greatly improved the food ration in the field for their grazing animals. 

Since then, Bruce and his family haven’t looked back from their paradigm shift of sowing dry into existing grasslands. An essential component of the method they created, now known as No Kill Cropping, is livestock grazing. To graze effectively, the Maynards created Stress Free Stockmanship and Self-Herding. 

The next generation of the Maynard family – Liam, Ella and Hannah – are now taking more ownership of the cropping process, and they are exploring new markets with brewers and bakers that are interested in the unique local provenance characteristics that the No Kill Cropping provides. As their practices of integrating grasslands with cropping and grazing continue to evolve, particularly while managing the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, the Maynards continue to seek healthy outcomes for crops, animals, soils, landscapes, themselves and their community.

Check back soon.

We’ll soon release the full case study which will include practice changes, soil health and building outcomes. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter to hear the latest.

Farm Facts

Location
Wiradjuri and Wongaibon Country | Narromine, NSW
Annual Rainfall
520mm (Avg. Non Seasonal)
Annual Evaporation
1,980mm (Avg.)
Agro-climatic region
Semi-arid, on the boundary of the Mitchell Slopes and Upper Darling Plains
Property Size
1,400 Ha
Elevation
240m
Social Structure
Owner and operators
Enterprise Type
Mixed enterprise including cropping, beef cattle, sheep
Soils*
Alluvials, Yellow Podzolics, Red Earths, Red-Brown Earths, Grey Cracking Clays, Brown Clay

*Learn more about soil classifications at Soil Science Australia

Location
Wiradjuri and Wongaibon Country | Narromine, NSW

Annual Rainfall
520 mm (Average, Non Seasonal)
Annual Evaporation 1980 mm (Avg.)

Annual Evaporation
1,980 mm (Avg.)

Agro-climatic region
Semi-arid, on the boundary of the Mitchell Slopes and Upper Darling Plains

Property Size
1,400 ha

Elevation
240 m

Social Structure
Owner and operators

Enterprise Type
Mixed enterprise including cropping, beef cattle, sheep

Soils*
Alluvials, Yellow Podzolics, Red Earths, Red-Brown Earths, Grey Cracking Clays, Brown Clay

*Learn more about soil classifications at Soil Science Australia

Videos

This project is supported by the Australian Government’s Smart Farms Program.
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