The highly anticipated 2011 Farmer of the Year award has been presented to Robert Ruwoldt of Horsham, Victoria, on Wednesday, September 7.

Robert is a fourth-generation on the 2800ha family farm in the heart of Victoria’s Wimmera, a region he describes as having some of the best soils in Australia. Mostly heavy black clay soil types, with good water-holding capacity, to support his 100 per cent cropping enterprise.

The Award, sponsored by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, was announced in Sydney as part of the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards.

In partnership with wife Wendy and their son Justin, Robert grows wheat, barley, lentils, canola, beans and chickpeas in a continuous cropping rotation with an average 400mm rainfall.

Robert believes this spread gives him the option of diversity in his production system.

The Ruwoldts started to direct seed in 1983 and have continued to advance the system, with changes continuing at a fast rate as new herbicides and changing machinery and farming methods began arriving “all at once”.

Robert believes change is the hardest thing for farmers to do and says “change will not happen until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change”.

According to Robert there is always a better way to do things and the challenge is for farmers to work through the issues.

He says when he started direct seeding he could never have imagined the full controlled traffic zero-till farming system he uses today.

Kondinin Group managing editor Paul Mole congratulated Robert on becoming the 2011 Australian Farmer of the Year.

“Rob is a shining example of Australian agriculture. He’s innovative, he’s passionate, he’s professional and he’s a leader in his industry,” Mr Mole said.

“I look forward to working with Rob over the next 12 months - using his success to promote farming as a career choice for the next generation.”

The national Australian Farmer of the Year Award supported by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, promotes a positive image of farmers, inspires and encourages career choices and investment interest in Australian agriculture.

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