“Look out for each other and look after yourself”; that is the poignant message Mulwala’s Fiona Marshall is extending to grain growers this harvest.
Recently appointed to the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Regional Panel, Mrs Marshall says safety and wellbeing, physical and mental, should be the number one priority at harvest.
“Safety is the most important thing heading into and throughout harvest. You have to look after each other, take care of yourself and maintain conversations,” says Mrs Marshall, a farm business manager and grain grower at Mulwala.
She says the need to support others has been heightened this year following severe weather events, particularly late season frosts, that are expected to result in significant crop losses for some growers.
“The late frosts have not been widespread across entire regions, and that is what makes this situation so incredibly difficult, unlike a drought or a flood when so many farmers would be going through the same thing at the same time and recognition of their plight is extensive, these frost events are in isolation and growers are left to deal with the fall-out.
“When your neighbours are celebrating a bumper harvest but your crops have been wiped out by frost, it is a devastating position for a grower to be in.”
Mrs Marshall, who has been farming with her husband Craig for 21 years, says it is critical that growers affected by frost and others hit by recent damaging weather events seek support and maintain communication with family, friends and others in the community. Having already spoken with a number of growers impacted by frost, she says it is essential to keep the conversation channels open.
“Communication, in fact, is the key for all grain growers, especially at this time of the year.
“If you are lying in bed at night worrying about money or how you are going to get the next crop in, talk to the bank manager, talk to other people. Don’t internalise because you will only make yourself more tired, stressed and anxious.
“As hard as it may be, you just have to deal with situations and move on so whatever happens, at least you are in action and not just dwelling on something and achieving nothing.”
Mrs Marshall says had they not received plentiful rainfall in late October, their harvest would be finishing instead of just starting.
“Prior to the rain, the crops were struggling and the outlook for harvest was not great. Even in that position, it was all about keeping balance and looking at your priorities and realising that the most important thing is to maintain your relationships and look after yourself so you can go again next year.”