Tech-savvy farming in Lucindale

LACHLAN Seears’ multifaceted adoption of technology across his farm business has earned him the Kondinin Group 2017 Award for Excellence in Technology.
Tech-savvy farming in Lucindale Tech-savvy farming in Lucindale Tech-savvy farming in Lucindale Tech-savvy farming in Lucindale Tech-savvy farming in Lucindale

Staff Reporter

Lachlan is a mixed farmer from Lucindale, South Australia, who has taken a traditional grazing operation and turned it into a value-adding irrigation, fodder and food crop enterprise.

“Managing nearly 3000 hectares, I needed to look at what was available and what the latest advances in technology were so we could remain efficient and competitive in the business,” Lachlan said.

Lachlan’s farming enterprise is made up of 1050 hectares (ha) of dryland crop and 225 ha of irrigated speciality crops. He runs a flock of 5000 self-replacing composite ewes for prime lambs and wool and a 600-head herd of self-replacing Angus cows, where steers are sold to feedlot and meat processors.

“We use Controlled Traffic Farming for our cropping, and introduced tramline marking and auto-steer Global Positioning System,” Lachlan said. “We are able to match machines throughout the cropping program such as seeders, sprayer and fertiliser spreader.”

“Our gross margins benefitted from the introduction of auto section control for the boom spray.”

Lachlan’s on-farm grain storage facility has the capacity to store more than 6200 tonnes of grain, so protection of his grain has been a high priority. 

“We invested significantly in specific storage technology such as a computer-controlled aeration system, which has provided numerous marketing advantages, primarily in keeping our stored grain dry and pest free.”

On the stock side of the business, Lachlan uses Electronic Identification (EID) on sheep plus an auto weigh/drafting machine.  These have been considerable investments, but ones that are already showing results. 

“The overall aim of collecting the data from the EID tags is to increase weaning by 10 per cent, from 125% to 135%,” Lachlan said.  

Lachlan also uses several Apps and software programs to efficiently manage his vast farming area.

“We use the John Deere Link to monitor machines remotely and really value the ‘Remote Access of Machine’ ability, which allows us to see exactly what the controller in the cab is seeing,” Lachlan said. “We use the AgriWebb App to monitor and track our livestock, and for our irrigation enterprise, the use of remote access and control apps such as Reinke ‘Rein Cloud’ allows us to control, set up, monitor and adjust all pivots and pumps.”  

“We also have the mapping software App AGRI plot, which allows quick and easy mapping of our paddocks.”

Ken Solly, Agribusiness Consultant at Solly Business Services, has known Lachlan for more than 15 years through the McKillop Farm Management Group of which Lachlan is a past Chair.

“Lachie is a great innovator in terms of being an early-adopter of modern technology to improve farm efficiencies,” Mr Solly said.

“He is probably the highest user of modern technology, with the use of Apps and programs on his phone playing an integral part of his operation. He was the first person I knew to have controlled traffic and GPS, and that was at least 15 years ago.”

 “Lachlan farms in what would have been regarded as non-cropping country, because it was too wet, and he’s turned it into a highly-productive cropping enterprise through his seeding technology and controlled traffic farming. 

 “I don’t know of anybody more committed to agriculture. He is just so passionate about it.”

Ben White, General Manager at Kondinin Group, said Lachlan’s ability to experiment and embrace new farming technology made him a standout for the Award.

“Lachlan’s use of technology on-farm really impressed us,” Mr White said.

“His willingness to look outside the norm and test out new methods, is clearly a winning combination. His attitude towards ag-tech is outstanding.”