Chomping on a rye grass stalk with rain trickling down his face, Mr Silage gave it a nod of approval: “Still tastes sweet!”.
Mr Silage, as DEPI’s Frank Mickan is colloquially known, is a living legend.
Frank’s technical knowledge of pastures and conservation is unsurpassed but farmers really appreciate Frank for his genuine interest, knack of creating real discussion and, most of all, understanding of what is practical and makes a difference on farm. Frank is the farmer’s friend.
Yesterday’s Forage Planning session led by Frank and his young colleague, Pat, brought a dozen or so farmers out on a miserable day to learn about the selection and sowing of summer crops.
There was no sense of being dragged along to another talk-fest. Rather than a succession of Powerpoints, we had a great discussion where farmers learnt from the DEPI gurus, invited private consultants and each other. Real value.
Because Frank knows how to get farmers talking, it’s always relevant. Even Zoe, who’s been attending these types of sessions since preschool (now just during school holidays, of course), gets something out of it.
It’s a great thrill for Zoe to help assess the pastures on our weekly farm tours and an even greater thrill for her mum to hear her shriek “Canopy closure!”.
Australian dairy needs a whole cadre of Frank Mickans to remain competitive. I only hope that in the rush towards a glamorous new FTA deal, our government remembers the value of home-grown smarts.