Caring about land and legacy

April 25, 2018

Lockington farmers Grant and Naomi Sims

LOCKINGTON farmers Grant and Naomi Sims have their hands full.

A 10,000 acre property, staff to manage and three young children (with a fourth on the way) keep them more than occupied.

But the reason for this busy lifestyle is pretty simple.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve – and I think if we can leave the farm for our kids in a better condition than we found it – then that’s the aim,” Grant said.

“We want to hand this on to the next generation.”

The couple have created their own little slice of paradise about 15 minutes from Lockington on a piece of land that has been in Grant’s family for six generations.

While their focus is on cropping, they have recently expanded into beef cattle.

“We have also just celebrated 140 years on this land,” Grant said.

“It was 1887 when my family first bought this land. It was Samuel Sims, and his family grew produce.

“They were great entrepreneurs and the land has been passed down through the generations since then. I consider us very lucky to live out here.”

Grant and Naomi grew 11 crop varieties last year using flood irrigation. Their irrigation infrastructure was modernised in 2014 as part of the Connections Project with some open channels replaced with pipes.

The couple are always trialling innovative ideas with a focus on diversity and crop rotation.

“We’ve got wheat, barley, oats, canola, beans and lentils among others. We’ve also been trying out companion cropping – growing canola and faba beans together,” Grant said.

“We do lots of trials – probably too many sometimes – to see what works in our own paddocks. Bearing in mind that production costs have gone up and sometimes profitability doesn’t quite match.”

The couple are very mindful of soil health and what they apply to their paddocks.

“It does all come back to sprays. We minimise this as much as we can,” Naomi said.

“As we stopped relying on synthetic chemicals and fertilisers, we noticed more ants, spiders and insects in the paddock – everything came to life,” Grant said.

“And for every one pest there are far more good bugs. You have to realise that insecticide kills everything – both the good and the bad. A pest is only a pest because of its ability to reproduce so rapidly.”

Grant said pests and disease are often a symptom that the soil and surrounding environment might be out of balance.

“As things get more in balance, there are usually fewer issues. Diversity is important to ensure there’s a range of soil nutrients,” he said.

For Naomi, life on the farm is a very different kind of paradise to the one she grew up with.

“I’m originally from the Mornington Peninsula. I’m used to being five minutes from the beach,” she said.

“Grant and I met in London in 2006 and he asked me to move back here with him. When he told me the farm wasn’t near the beach I asked if I could get a pool.

“I’m still waiting on the pool and now have three children championing the idea,” she said.

Grant and Naomi agree that it’s been great to give their children the best of both worlds – the coast and the country.

“The kids love it out here. Hunter already thinks he’s a cowboy – he loves animals, fish and everything outdoorsy,” Grant said.

“We are so lucky we can take the kids to work every day and teach them about life.”

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