Farmers start learning the trade from their parents at an early age, but fifteen-year-old Condamine resident Matt Eising has been taking it a step further, growing trial plots of crops with a commercial operation from the age of nine.
His parents Wayne and Mary had grown crops for years, but it was Matt who initiated the collaboration with broadacre seed company Pacific Seeds to grow trial plots of different varieties of sorghum, corn and forage on the family property, testing which worked best on their varying soils.
Mr Eising, who balances school with life on the land at 2230-hectare crop and cattle property ‘Kahmoo’, was recently recognised at CRT FarmFest by the company for his six years of service and for being its youngest co-operator.
He said the passion for cropping began even before he started school.
“I first started out when I was four. It was pretty wild. I would just get the old hand out and shake a bit of oats around and run the rake over it,” he said.
Now taking things more seriously as a trial co-operator, his jobs include maintaining soil health and experimenting with row spacing.
“I try to keep the soil up to the best condition it can be to perform, to get the maximum out of the varieties.
“Something I’ve also been doing a bit of is trialling different row spaces.”
He said in addition to the usual 1m, 0.5m and 40cm spacings, he has created his own.
“I’ve just been trialling a few of my own. I’ve brought it back to 30cm, then I’ve gone out to 60cm, so just slightly further, then I’ve done double twin skips that I’ve made myself, which are a foot and then a metre apart from there.”
The major crops grown at Kahmoo are wheat, oats and chickpeas in winter and forage and grain sorghum in summer.
Mr Eising said he looks for a grain sorghum variety that can make the most of the moisture at the time, and when choosing forage, looks for a fine stem suited for hay and something with quick regrowth.
He also has plans to experiment with sunflower and corn.
“I’d like to, if the season is going with us one year, try and get some sunflowers in because I reckon they’re a pretty cool crop to watch grow.
“We don’t do a lot of broadacre [corn], but it’s actually something I really like to grow a lot of in the garden and I’m hoping to expand even more again.
“It’s an unbelievable crop to grow – how quick it grows and the earliness too. You can get it in if you miss the wheat, which could potentially happen with it being drier. You can go in with corn in August and still get quite a handy crop. That way you can have it done before December, have it all tasselled – the heat’s not getting to it.”
Considering his future, the teenage farmer is eager to finish school and get on the farm fulltime.
“That will give me a lot of opportunities to be growing crops fulltime in a big broad acre area, so I’m starting to … look quite forward to that.”