Pink Chaser Bin, here we come!

For those who have followed #crossvillegoeswest in our journey to WA, you will have read about our ‘little wager’ for Benny Ranford to order a pink chaser bin.

For those unfamiliar, this is a summary of the story and how you can contribute to, not 1 hot pink chaser bin in SA, but 2! All for a great cause.


Challenge Accepted

The Crossville Ag Bureau is a progressive, community minded group of farmers and their grain business partners, based at Cleve on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. The President and ‘fearless leader’, Isaac Gill, organised an 8 day field trip to the West Australian wheatbelt which was made possible by generous sponsorship from GRDC, AGT, Rabobank, Achmea Australia, Ramsey Brothers, Landmark, CBH Grain, EPIC and Crop Smart.

The tour, labelled ‘Crossville goes west’, took place from the 15th to 22nd of September 2015, with 22 blokes taking the opportunity to meet some of the best and the biggest grain producing farmers in the west. The goal being to learn how they tackle issues related to soils and weeds as well as an insight into their farm management styles.

The trip included visits to several farm machinery manufacturers, one of which was Trufab Engineering who build ‘Grain King’ chaser bins. Ben Ranford, a farmer on the trip, had ordered a 30 tonne bin which they were about to start building. The standard colour of these bins is green and yellow, perfectly matched to Ben’s John Deere tractor. While we were there, the group noticed 2 bins at the front of the yard painted pink! The group asked “why the pink bins”? Apparently Trufab hire the bins out to farmers and part of the hire fee is donated to breast cancer support charities.

So…. there began the group peer presssure!!!

Everyone, except Ben, wanted that new bin to be delivered in hot pink! The heckling was on!

After a few hours it was apparent the boys weren’t going to let up so Ben set them a challenge. If they could raise $10 000 to donate towards breast cancer research and treatment, Ben would change his chaser bin order for delivery in hot pink!IMG_20150922_104409

Some more fundraising challenges followed with Ben completing a late night swim in his jocks which got the tally off to a good start of over $4 000.


The Crossville Ag Bureau gesture is now going viral through the farming community and we now have another challenger……….. Ag Bureau Board member and state treasurer, Andrew Kitto of Gladstone, has expanded the challenge. If this venture can raise a total of $20 000, HE will paint his chaser bin pink! So this fundraising challenge is now extended to the Mid North farmers and the rest of the Ag Bureau of SA network.

Trufab Engineering, you better get the pink paint ready for Ben’s new bin and you might wanna add in some extra cans of pink paint for Mr Kitto!

Ben Ranford has chosen the 2 charities and you can ensure he and Andrew keep their pink bin promises by donating in the following ways:

National Breast Cancer Foundation

McGrath Foundation  Home Page; top right corner select “make a donation”; select “Event donation”; enter our event reference code CE02488. Fill in donor details and credit card info. On completion of the donation, the McGrath Foundation will generate a tax receipt for you.

OR by direct deposit with the following reference:CE02488
McGrath Foundation
Commonwealth Bank
BSB: 062 000
Account: 1389 1910

OR by telephone
With your credit or debit card, please call the Donations team on (02) 8962 6100

Thank you to the businesses that have made pledges so far: Ramsey Brothers, Pringles AgPlus, Quinn Transport, Cleve Rural Traders, Landmark Cleve, Elders Eyre Peninsula, Agri-Spread Australia, Australian Grain Technologies, Rabobank, Evfarm, CBH Grain, Cummins Ag Services & Cleve Hotel Social Club. There are another 20 or so pledges already from our group and local farmers ranging from $100 to $2 000!

Our goal is to provide $10k to the McGrath Foundation and another $10k to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

We had an absolutely brilliant trip to the West, we might be a bit ‘rough ’round the edges’ but our hearts are in the right place.

IMG_20150922_073427Kind regards

The Crossville Agricultural Bureau,  Cleve

Day 7


After our great sleep at the Ocean Centre on the foreshore at Geralton, we met up with Peter Newman from the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative.

With Peter as our tour guide, we went on to visit Rod and Andrew Messina at their Wicherina farm. Peter gave us a overview of the wild radish and rye grass resistance due to the rotation limitations of the wheat/lupin practices from the 1980s to 2000.

Andrew Messina gave us a rundown of the farming history of his 12 000ha continuous cropping operation.


We had a look at his 8230 Case header with a home made Tells farm chaff cart with a conveyor belt feed system.

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In typical farmer style, we checked out the machinery sheds where we saw their new ripper with a unique 500mm-800mm deep alternating shank design.


Andrew and Rob’s nurse tank for spraying

The next shed housed a solid 13 furrow and hydraulic 14 furrow mouldboard plow.


We went out to their paddock of Wyalchatchem wheat sown after deep ripping and moulboarding.


Where we are standing was not mouldboarded. The crop on the headlands that was not treated was poor but the plowed land in the middle was a cracker! The difference was chalk and cheese. They estimate the difference to be 1 to 1.5t/ha.

We went for a quick drive through their farm and looked at canola, wheat and lupins, which were very clean with only a small amount of radish to be seen in lupins. It was a very clean and well managed farm.


Our fearless leader getting down and dirty in the Canola

Off to the Mingenew bakery for a nice lunch.

After lunch we went on to Stu Smarts farm just down the road. He had impressive looking crops and an even more impressive bitumen driveway! Stu is the inventor of the stilletto seeding boot and has mouldboard ploughed 12 000ha.



Stuart Smarts spray shed


Stu gave us an overview of how his farm is operated. He has a very large business cropping 13 000ha of canola, wheat and lupins, with a large amount left out in fallow for the next season.

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His paddocks have been moulboarded before being put back into wheat with a modified seeder because the ground is so soft.

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Stu Smart’s Machinery Shed

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Stu led us around his 80m by 100m shed full of John Deere equipment. Another part of his business is he also owns 5 John Deere dealerships, Greenline, with branches in the south of WA. Stu has his very own John Deere team on farm just to service his gear.


Peter Newman then gave us a talk about his role in the rye grass resistance research and talk to us about what we may be able to do to prevent getting in the situation WA farmers had.  He said we are in the honeymoon stage of cropping in SA and if we don’t start preventing resistance with integrated weed management tools we will lose chemical control options like WA have.  IMG_20150922_072122

Throughout our whole trip, WA farmers were telling us how GM canola had become a very important tool in the war on weeds and has been widely adopted. So with a ban in SA on GM it is very important to keep the chemicals we still have working or else we would be in trouble.

If we were to have GM it would make it easier to prevent resistance by using more modes of action in crop. Peter told us how implementing weed seed collection at harvest before we have a problem is the way to go. Another benefit he is seeing with stubble dumps is the use of them in mixed farming systems by grazing the chaff piles with livestock and getting good results for weed control with the added benefit of sheep feed.  Peter then had to leave us as he had some back packers out ‘hand weeding’ paddocks for wild radish!!! He had to go pick them up.

We jumped back on the bus and went for a drive around Stu’s farm and saw the amazing difference in crop, moisture holding capacity and weed control from mouldboard plowing.

On to Lancelin and stayed the night at the Dunes. Another awesome meal there.


Thanks Sam Hancock for cleaning up the bus, we’d had a big day at the end of a big week. The calibre of people we have met has been awesome.

Day 6

Woke up at ‘no till Bills’ had BBQ breakfast then headed into Mullewa to jump through the caravan park showers.


With everyone freshened up we headed off to Tim and Daniel Critches family farm at Mullewa where we got plenty of good efficiency tips. Tim and Daniel farm with their father and have a great focus on ecomomy of scale efficiencies over their 13 000ha operation.

Their system includes fallowing one third of their farm annually and the use of a weed seeker.

We checked out a nurse spray tank carrying required chemicals, water tank and a 3 inch pump for fast filling in the paddocks.  Also investigated their narrow wind row shute for concentration of weeds for later windrow burning. With a stem like a small trunk, it’s possibly the best thing we’ve ever seen for a John Deere Header as it still allows you to use the header efficiently with regards to capacity.


We went for a drive around the farm to see their GT50 GM canola. Tim explained how he has used GM canola to their advantage in low rainfall country.

Before we headed off we had some hamburgers for lunch in the shearing shed.

Next we found our way to John Warr’s farm near Yuna where he farms 20 000 acres and also imports Agrispreaders. John explained how he got into selling Agrispreaders and what they are focusing on with the development of section control flotation and spreading curtains to achieve a 36m spread at 10% accuracy.


John showed us around his boomspray fill station and the twister silos he uses to keep the headers in the crop.On our drive around his farm he explained what he is doing with mould board ploughing and where he’s building roads with permanent field bin sites and designated road train turn around points.Very organised.


We then migrated to John’s “man cave” which we have taken photos of but they’re never to be shown to any wives! (But unfortunately for us, our blog editor is a farmers wife, so here tis!)


While having a few beers we decided to chip in to the ‘pink bits’ bin and get Ben Ranford to go for a Swim in the freezing cold swimming pool in his jocks.  This raised another $4300 towards our $10 000 McGrath Foundation donation (most money he’s ever made in 2 minutes!).


We finally headed out to Geraldton for our best nights sleep of the trip.

Day 5

Ventured out to Rod Birch farm at Coorow had a chat about his farming program as well as the many Boards he sits on, including AGT. We looked at the AGT trials on farm including the new mace replacement Scepter. Had a farm tour of the GM canola and a shed inspection of machinery and workshop. Rod said he always has all equipment ready well before he starts harvest and seeding to achieve any early seeding opportunities etc.


Then we went out to Bill Crabtree’s farm on the north east wheat belt.  Went for a bus tour around the farm to see what he has done since he’s been there. He paid $100 an acre for the land in October 2007 with the locals saying he was crazy for buying it.  He has gradually built up his equipment and is starting to see some good results. Bill has trials of 7 GM Canola varieties side by side and some trial work on salt, sub-soil acidity, UAN use and dry sowing.



We had a BBQ and slept on mattresses in the shed for the night.



Day 4

Day 4 – a bus trip is not a bus trip without a hangover at some point!

But despite a few sore heads, we met up with Chris Wilkins from Synergy Consulting, Badgingarra. He took us out to Jaden Cockings farm at South Moora to look at his biosolids program (treated effluent supplied by Water Corp of WA – FREE).  Chris explained the changes to their farming systems over the last decade and toured us around to show us the improvements the bio solids have made to his property. He’s been doing this for 20 years and his ‘p’ levels are over 180ppm!

Jaden Cockings placeJaden Cockings shite pile

Jaden Cockings shite pit

Jaden’s farm has been mostly grazing in the past but is now cleaned up for cropping of oat hay for export, wheat, canola and pastures. He has cut his sheep numbers back but still runs 3000 breeding ewes which he plans on keeping in the system.

Moving on we went to visit Andrew Kenny to look at the mould board ploughing he is using to treat non wetting sands.  We saw some amazing results.  It took his yield from 1t/ha to 3 t/ha!  We looked at his barley that had been grazed with 20dse of sheep and checked out his GM canola.

Andrew Kennys cropandrew Kennys mould board plough

We spent the rest of the afternoon with Erin Cahill, farmer and agronomist, viewing his deep ripping, spading and compaction on-farm trials. He showed us the results using a petronometer.

erin cahills deep rippingErin Cahills

A big day so onto the pub at Moora with Erin for a few beers and tea.

moora hotel

Day 3 – Challenge Accepted!


Day 3 started with a short drive to Cunderdin where we spotted Trufab Engineering. Ben Ranford had just ordered a new chaser bin from them so he went over and arranged a tour of the business.

While we were there we saw a couple pink chaser bins that they hire out in the district and then donate a portion of each hire fee to the McGrath Foundation.

This started a plan to get Ben a pink one!!!

Ben said he would change his order to pink if we raised $10 000 for the McGrath Foundation. Donations are coming in thick and fast and it’s looking very likely that Ben will have a pink chaser bin and the McGrath Foundation will receive a $10k donation from Crossville Ag Bureau.


From there we went to Andrew Irvings farm to see the new Agrifac Condor boomspray. An 8000 litre,  51 metre self propelled boomspray he has purchased for his contracting business. Andrew has 3 spraying units that cover 150000 ha a year!IMG_20150922_072032

After lunch at Wongan Hills Bakery, we met up with Brett Lines who took us to Lawson Farms.  This is a 13 000 Ha corporate farm using Controlled Traffic, VR and oil moisture probes. We had a Q & A session with the Manager about corporate farms, what the community thought of it and issues with finding labour. We checked out one of their paddocks that had been deep ripped and limed and also discussed their shift to CTF and what they thought of their first year.

Next was Glen Millsteed’s farm at Sheoak Springs. We arrived at a canola crop to look at improvements made from deep ripping and spading. Controlled traffic was recently adopted and seemed to be working well. He took us back to his yard where he had moved all his machinery out to show us how it all lined up.  Glen’s family owned farm is cropping wheat, barley and canola and they have 3500t of on-farm storage and a 10 000l Wespray unit. Glen did have some issues setting up CTF with his header and chaser bin not lining up with auger spans so he had to extend the auger to fix that problem.

After several beers and great conversations we left for Moora and dinner at the hotel.

Day 2 #crossvillegoeswest


First place we visited on day 2 was the CBH Kwinana Port system. Had a great tour from top to bottom. Everyone was very impressed by the modern neat set up. Well ahead of us in SA. We were also taken through the museum and the old and new  control rooms.



Next we went to Ausplow for a tour through manufacturing/painting facility. Chris Farmer talked to us about what they have been working on and future developments. They supplied lunch for us before we went to the assembly workshop and engineers office. We were shown how the engineers design every component of the bars and box’s using modern CAD software.




Next up we travelled to John Seabooks farm/agri imports at York to see the vector boomsprays he imports. He gave us a demo of it working and showed us lots of other things he imports.


We ended the day in Northam

Arrived in perth

Made it to perth yesterday. Arrived around 1.30 fairly worn out. Picked up our bus and found our way to aegic. Had a informative afternoon there. Barry Cox, Dr Larisa cato, Grant Powell , Peter White and David Stephins talked to us about all the things they are doing.

We then went to dinner in Rockingham. CBH put on the meal there. Commercial Manager of CBH Richard Simonaitis talked to us about all the great things CBH are doing in western Australia. Everyone felt very envious of what CBH are doing in WA . Stayed at Quest apartments in Rockingham, 6 week old apartments.

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Get on board! Places available on the 2015 Crossville Ag Bureau Trip

The 2015 Crossville Ag Bureau Bus Trip will take growers to the WA wheatbelt to look at some of the most innovative and cutting edge technologies and practices implemented.

Download the bus trip flyer including daily schedule* here.

We have 8 seats available – secure your spot on the trip by emailing Isaac Gill – or phone 0488 971 296.

*Finer details of the schedule are currently being finalised and are subject to change.  Updated flyers will be available as event planning progresses.