Low cost, no till farming on show

“Many just can’t afford to change their systems over,” he said.

“But the take-home message is you don’t need a lot of money to have a go it at it.”

The Thorne family have opted for a 3.2-metre wide CTF system, now operating not only on the 121-hectare home farm but also on a recently-purchased 48ha block, and on a further 182ha of leased country – all mostly black soil.

With eight or nine years of experience now behind them, apart from achieving better soil moisture profiles, less paddock compaction and higher yields, the Thornes say they are now working more country with just one labour unit.

The property’s irrigation regime is also tied in with the CTF.

Their rather ancient Mercedes tractor, now fitted with a guidance system, is a key component of the system, and the conversion work needed to adjust its axles and hubs to span 3.2m cost just $5000.

The disc planter/air cart combination, plus a self-propelled Spray Coupe boom sprayer (purchased as crop returns improved) and an old header, with its modified front now spanning eight rows, cuts a 6.4m swath to neatly dovetail the system together.

While a manure-spreading policy appears to contradict the property’s CTF principles it has been deemed necessary to boost phosphorous and zinc levels on the lease country. Naturally, the spreader runs on 3.2m tracks.

“This year’s summer crops were our best-ever and I hope I live long enough to see another year like it,” Mr Thorne said.

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