Fields of gold inspire young canola growers

Fields of gold inspire young canola growers | The Cultivator Spring 2021

FIELDS OF GOLD INSPIRE young canola growers

If there was ever an ideal time to take over the reins of a family farm, it definitely would not be amid one of the worst droughts in living history, prior to a global pandemic and a widespread mouse plague. But try telling that to 26-year-old third-generation Cowra canola grower Marlee Langfield, who tackled the challenge head on.

One of the country’s youngest female CEO’s, Ms Langfield chose to take on the farm business after inheriting the property ten years after her father lost his battle to cancer and hasn’t looked back since.

“I’m sure many people question why we took on the challenge but we’re giving it the best go, as did generations before us,” Ms Langfield told The Cultivator.

Ms Langfield and her fiancé Mr Andrew Gallagher started farming fulltime in 2018. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without him,” she said.

“At the start of 2018, like everyone, we didn’t know how long or how dry it would get. We continued with the farm rotations, planting canola seeds into limited soil moisture and with Mother Nature not delivering sufficient in-crop rain, our yields were on the downside of average, but we were very lucky to have crops to harvest.

“2019 was the killer. It was a really hot summer and a dry seeding, but, if not an optimist, who is a farmer? We ended up bailing the canola and that was a tough call to make, but looking back I know we made the right decision.

“2020 was a complete turnaround. It was unbelievable. We went from baling canola to the most magnificent yields the district had ever seen. And to get that turn around so quickly showed us that good times indeed return! We were averaging three tonne to the hectare of canola.

“For us to see the very best of Mother Nature and the incredible crops yields was the much-needed boost we needed.”

This year, Ms Langfield and Mr Gallagher are growing just over 300 hectares of canola and it’s set to be another good year.

“Sitting in our sowing rig, complete with GPS, air conditioning, heater, variable rate technology, alarms and sensors and to have a rusty old horseshoe get caught by a tyne, it grounds you.

“Every day, Andrew and I are riding on the shoulders of the generations of farmers before us pondering what sowing crops would have looked like 60 years ago. My family and those before them, cultivated this land to provide us with opportunities to grow great grains and we want to pass that onto future generations,” she said.

Ms Langfield is always looking to the future and identifying new ways of doing things by seeking the help of experts in their field to achieve the best yields possible.

For eight months of the year, Ms Langfield and Mr Gallagher grow and care for their canola, delivering harvested seeds to 100 per cent Australian family-owned MSM Milling, located in Manildra, New South Wales, which presses it into auzure Canola Oil.

“It’s a very humble job and I’m enormously passionate about sharing the paddock to plate process. Recently Andrew and I were in Costco Supermarket and saw huge pallets of auzure Canola Oil and we said to ourselves we produced this!” Ms Langfield said.

“We’re so proud that we can attribute ourselves to growing canola in a clean, safe and sustainable environment for consumers here and overseas.”

Ms Langfield is continually sharing her story and advocating for young leaders in agriculture including her role as a youth ambassador with Young Farming Champions and professional development pathways with GrainGrowers ‘Grains Social Leadership Program’.

“I strongly believe that we need to advocate for agriculture particularly when it comes to the younger generation, we may only be 20 per cent of the population but we are 100 per cent the future!”