Gus's Musings

November 19, 2016

Retail Agriculture

Western Resilient Landscapes (Soils For Life) Project

Wyndham Field Day

Featuring Nigel Kerin

“Retail Agriculture”

Friday 4th November 2016

The field day began with an introduction by Western LLS and a brief history on how the project came about and the importance of the support that mentoring provides while going through change.  This just gave a timely reminder about how we can always be striving to improve our farming methods and the role a network of likeminded people play in helping that happen.  This was followed by Kirsty Yeates from Soils for Life giving us a short talk on how Soils for Life and the Rotary Club of Sydney decided to partner with Western LLS on this project, the importance of healthy soil for our community.

The day was about gaining an understanding of what Kelly and Gus are looking to achieve on Wyndham, however the best part of the day was hearing the “focus speaker”, Nigel Kerin (“Kerin Poll” Yeoval NSW).  Nigel reminded us all about the importance of profit in Ag, through his talk titled “Retail Agriculture”.

To sum up the day I would like to just present the points that myself (and others that kindly contributed) thought stood out and feel we need to remember them.

Nigel showing the "power" of grazing charts

Nigel showing the “power” of grazing charts

So here are the key points/quotes/gems: (They are in no particular order)

#1.  Don’t be a victim, land managers need to take responsibility for the landscape and take ownership of creating the landscape they want to see.

#2.  Don’t accept that the way things are is the way things have always been or have to always be.

#3.  Profits can be made in time, landscape and $. Regardless of the profits made in landscape and time, you still need to make money.

#4. Succession plan, where everyone involved means they can achieve their potential

#5.  If the landscape is in stable condition that doesn’t always mean it is healthy

#6.  Focus on what builds wealth: people, self improvement, soils, plants, livestock

#7.  Build resources so it’s valued by the wider community – Profit

#8.  Better connection with the land, learn from the Aboriginal people

#9.  Training/courses, consistently improve:  Grazing for profit, Low stress stock handling, KLR marketing etc.

#10.  “Retail Agriculture” – profiting from your most important asset, your GRASS

#11.  Dollars per hectare much more important than $$ per unit.

#12.  W.O.T.B. (Working On The Business) monthly meetings, what went well and how can we do better

#13.  Do physical grass budgets and no hand feeding

#14.  Increase plant production & diversity, which in time will increase carrying capacity.

#15.  Incorporate trading into your livestock business to increase profit and as part of your drought policy.

#16.  “Sell your grass to the highest bidder” – Make sure you are carrying the most profitable class of livestock.

#17.  Drought is a lack of profit not a lack of rain.

#18.  We are either ‘regenerating’ or ‘degenerating’ – there is no steady state.

#19.  If stock are ‘too dear’ to buy, they are ‘too dear’ to own.

#20.  If you are in ‘overload’ you will never get to innovation mode.

#21.  If you are not matching stocking rate to carrying capacity, you are in ‘existence mode’ of thinking rather than an ‘abundance mode’ of thinking.

#22.  Continue to update your drought response ‘hit list’

#23.  Match the class of stock to the grade of feed (rocket fuel, diesel, unleaded or cardboard.)

#24.  Find out what you do well and then do more of it – fertility, weight gain, wool cut etc.

#25.   Be a “Herd Quitter” be a thinker, thinkers don’t follow, they innovate, break new ground and are adaptable to change.

#26.  Protect your grass and treat it like a bank, it is a major asset

#27.  Borrow money for things that create cash, eg. Livestock.  Fixed assets don’t create income

#28.  There is a lack of knowledge in the agricultural industry, and we need to attract younger people – the only thing that will achieve this is profit/money.

#29.  90% of agriculture believes the more animals the more profit

#30.  “You don’t get your shearing contractor to re-wire the woolshed, so why use the accountant to do a succession plan?”

#31.  “If you use a grazing chart, you can be selling before the neighbours even realise it is dry”

#32.  “Change of your grazing system is a bit like giving up smoking” – Need lots of support, this is where a mentor/s comes in

#33.  “The cancer of change is retrospective thinking” (don’t want to do that to young people)

#34.  “If you don’t bring people that challenge you into your business you’ll be stuck where you are.”

#35.  You can make fairly reasonable assessments of weight gain/loss by the shape and consistency of the stocks dung.

#36.  Importance of working together as a team. Involve everyone in the business, partners of staff included. “Together we are smarter than any one person”

#37.   Knowledge costs nothing, but you need to listen to find it.

#38.  “Always have more grass than stock, and never let water leave your place.”

#39.  “Everyone’s too busy being busy to make money.”

#40.  “It isn’t what people do or the way they do it, it is why they are doing it that is important”.

#41.  “Identify the 5 people you spend the most time with (counting family as one), they will be either taking you up, or taking you down”


Audience in the paddock

Audience in the paddock


Gus and Nigel

Gus and Nigel








Books and Resources (discussed on the day):


One Comment

  1. PaulStanbrook

    Reassuring notes on what would have been a great gathering.

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