Five minutes with a farmer group: West Midlands Group

Posted Jun 11,2019

The Soil CRC’s Communications Manager caught up with a very busy Nathan Craig – the Executive Officer from West Midlands Group for a five minute chat.

Tell us about West Midlands Group

We are based in the high rainfall zone of the Northern Agricultural region of Western Australia, which is about half way between Perth and Geraldton. Our local area is the West Midlands and our office is located in the centre of this at Dandaragan.

The West Midlands Group began as the West Midlands Natural Resource Group in 2003. We’ve evolved over the years and in 2008 we changed our name to West Midlands Group (WMG) and now focus on cropping, livestock and horticulture RD&E. The objective of WMG is to deliver timely and relevant information to our members, through on farm trials, demonstrations, events and workshops.

What area and type of farming do you cover?

Most of the farming members that are involved with WMG are based on mixed farming enterprises of cropping, sheep and cattle. The crops are mostly canola, wheat, barley and lupins. We still have a high percentage of sheep in our region because we are in a high rainfall zone.

Most of our 100 members hail from the Dandaragan and Badgingarra area, and more extensively across the shires of Coorow, Dandaragan and Moora.

What type of soil do you have?

There are many and varied soil types across our region, ranging from strong loam soils to sandplain, and with large areas of coarse sand or gravelly sand.  Water repellency is the main issue for our farmers. In fact, WMG grew out of the problems with water repellent soils that were affecting crop and pasture establishment. We’ve been very involved in research programs and running trials to find management solutions to water repellency.

Why did you become a participant in the Soil CRC?

The work of the Soil CRC fits very well with the work WMG are doing on improving our soil health, which we know will improve the productivity of our soils and lead to improving the profitability of our farmers. WMG has a strong soil focus and will continue this into the future. We also would love to drive some soil research in our area so our members can get access to research in the area that we work and farm.

What projects are West Midlands Group directly involved in?

What is exciting about working with the Soil CRC?

We are interested in the diversity across all four programs of the Soil CRC. Program 1 with its focus on adoption and innovation is really relevant. It is clear that grower groups need to effectively communicate and evaluate practice change, and that is something we are focusing on.

WMG are also really excited by the opportunities the Soil CRC offer to collaborate and be involved with a whole host of organisations across Australia. The recent Soil CRC Participants Conference was a great opportunity for that collaboration to happen. It feels like the Soil CRC is now really taking off and the research is exciting.