The next part of our journey down under took us out of the cities and into the countryside. We traversed across all kinds of farm land and small, rural towns much like you’d find here in North Dakota. One of our favorite parts of the trip was the fact we traveled so much and got to see all the diversity that Australia has to offer!
Our first stop was an area of Queensland called the Darling Downs or the Salad Bowl of Australia. The Darling Downs is a farming region on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range. The landscape is mostly rolling hills filled with either pasture or farming. It is here that they grow vegetable crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, potatoes, and onions. They also grow corn, wheat, barley, and sorghum for animal feed. This part of Queensland also contains nearly all (70%) of Australia’s cattle feedlots.
We started out by visiting a couple NuSeed sorghum and sunflower plots. For those who don’t know what a “plot trial” is, it is basically a field where research varieties are planted. These are varieties that aren’t available commercially. Researchers and agronomists will plant the field and then spend all growing season taking data and notes. The purpose of the plot trial is to see how each potential variety does with the best varieties ending up in a commercial market for farmers to plant in their own fields. We were lucky enough to meet some pretty awesome researchers and agronomists from the Darling Downs area, they gave us a great tour of two of their plots.
Of course, my hubby was full of questions and it was so fun for him to see how sunflowers are grown in a different part of the world. We found all their information super interesting and a couple things different to how we do things here in the United States.
First, you may have read my post about the differences between sunflowers on the blog here before. We sell the all black solid colored hull sunflowers for birdseed, they sell the striped varieties for birdseed. They even commented to us that they are pretty sure the solid black hulls would never sell in their birdseed market.
Second, we were shocked to find out they don’t have a herbicide tolerant variety of sunflower over there. The variety of sunflowers we plant here in the U.S. combines high-yielding seeds with a broad-spectrum herbicide to provide long-lasting weed control and a quality crop. The herbicide trait in Clearfield sunflowers isn’t GMO technology, it is instead based on a natural mutation discovered in a wild sunflower. Through research and hybrid breeding, Clearfield sunflowers were born and now provide us with greater crop tolerance and improved weed control. They noted that the technology should be coming to Australia in the next couple years and they are extremely excited for it. As we’ve been able to witness, it can greatly improve weed control for farmers which is important for growing a healthy crop.
Driving around the countryside, it was awesome to see all the farm land, quaint towns and farm yards. It wasn’t too much different than North Dakota but with A LOT MORE trees. Huge thanks to Kevin, the Chairman of the Australian Sunflower Association, for his wonderful hospitality during our time in the Darling Downs. We also spent the day with Chad Colby as well! Clearly, by all my photos, you will notice my infatuation with sorghum… I keep trying to talk Mark into planting some in our yard! 😉
One of the most exciting parts of our time checking out farm land was the fact we got to take in some sorghum harvest. For any farmer, one of the most exciting times of the year is harvest. That time of the year when, hopefully, all of your hard work has paid off! It was neat being able to talk harvest and crops with the farmer while we watched them combine.
For us, spending time checking out crops and farm land was probably one of the highlights of our trip. You always learn so much by talking to other farmers, agronomists, and people who do what you do. As I said in my last wrap up, “good people across the world face the same trials we do, maybe on a different level or scale, but they still face trials. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to know that there are people just like us out there producing the crops we all depend on, even if they are halfway across the world.”
And we didn’t even get to all the farms we would have liked… Needless to say, we are already planning another trip over there so we can tour through more farm land! And of course, visit all the many friends we made while over there. If you ever have the opportunity to go to Australia, no matter where, DO IT! You can’t find nicer and more hospitable people!
Our next adventure takes us WAY south to Victoria! And a visit to some pretty incredible painted silos! Stay tuned.
In case you missed Part 1 of our Australian Adventure: Sydney & Manly Beach
In case you missed Part 2 of our Australian Adventure: Up the Coast
In case you missed Part 3 of our Australian Adventure: Gold Coast & ASGC16