Press Releases   December 02, 2020

Agnire Farming’s nimble approach to tackle climate challenges

Brett and Kirrilee Warr run Agnire Farming

Brett and Kirrilee Warr run Agnire Farming, a mixed grain operation near Yuna in the northern region of Western Australia’s grainbelt.

Crestmead, Queensland (2 December, 2020) – IN THEIR first decade of farming together, Brett and Kirrilee Warr have overcome a series of unprecedented seasonal challenges with grit, flexibility and a clever use of technology and efficient equipment.

The husband and wife team, based near Yuna in the northern region of Western Australia's grainbelt, believe their Agnire Farming operation has faced more climate variability than their forebearers experienced in a lifetime.

However, the pair has taken each challenge in their stride to continue on their path of building a sustainable farming operation.

The diverse conditions culminated in May this year when they faced a once-in-a-lifetime storm that tore across their 8000 ha mixed-grain operation.

It was a harsh blow made all the crueler for its timing given it hit just as the Warrs wrapped up their wheat and lupin planting program. For 12 hours, Brett and Kirrilee endured relentless, dry, gale-force winds, knowing they were ripping away topsoil and destroying fragile germinating seedlings.

When the dust settled, Brett estimated about 20% of their crop had been destroyed.

"We had extremely hot weather and the winds were blowing more than 100 km per hour," Brett said.

"We had just finished our seeding then we were hit with that storm. We had to rethink our planting program and, pretty much, start again.

"We always have an extra surplus of seeds, so we decided to re-sow. In our northern region, we have a short growing period, so we know the damage set us back about two to three weeks."

Now, as harvest 2020-2021 is well underway, the Warrs are looking forward to understanding how much ground they were able to make up through re-planting, and will use the John Deere ActiveYieldTM technology installed across their fleet of John Deere equipment to collate accurate real-time data on their crop's performance this season.

ActiveYield automatically calibrates yield data as grain flows into the grain bin, and, through the MyJohnDeere platform, the real-time information paints an instant picture of paddock yield.  

The Warrs' use of this technology reflects one of their guiding principles of business - to harness whatever tools are available to build a profitable and sustainable farm for the next generation, including daughter Zoe, 11, and son Rhys, 10.

Growing business

Agnire Farming was established in 2009, when third-generation farmers Brett and Kirrilee, who also grew up on the land, secured 5100 ha through a family succession plan.

The country was a slice of the family farm Brett was raised on, so he was well-accustomed to production on the deep, sand-on-gravel soils and 360 mm average annual rainfall of the property.

In 2010 Agnire's maiden crop was harvested, an event which coincided with the birth of Zoe. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Kirrilee used her maternity leave to take control of moulding the business side of the enterprise, while Brett hit the paddocks.

Now, ten years later, the farm has expanded by about 3000 ha and has two full-time employees on the books, but Brett and Kirrilee's roles within the business have remained unchanged.

"We both play to our strengths – I think you have to," Kirrilee said.

"It also took us a while to identify the people we needed, but we did eventually find them and we can only do what we do because of their contribution. We try to let everyone do what they find most rewarding.

"It's an achievement knowing you have trusted and reliable people who feel what you feel and love farming as much as we do."

John Deere edge

However, it's not just the human workforce which has evolved since the inception of Agnire – so too has the fleet of workhorses.

In keeping with their willingness to adapt and to capitalise on opportunities, Agnire Farming joined the John Deere family about six years ago with the purchase of a John Deere S680 Combine Harvester. Their machinery shed now houses an 8R Large Row Crop Tractor, 9R and 9RX Tractors, and a soon-to-be-christened S780.

The decision to switch to a green fleet was driven by Kirrilee's sharp business mind and a John Deere demonstration organised by their local dealer for Brett on the farm.

Kirrilee, who is always looking at optimal ways to drive efficiency, said they did the math on changing fleets and "the numbers added up".

"Machinery has to be fit for purpose. We were looking for equipment that fitted in with our operational goals. Our changeover from another colour to green has come in rapid fashion, but that's because the technology is matching the work we are doing."

Ensuring consistency and optimisation of machine performance, no matter who is behind the wheel, was another driving force behind the decision and is an important feature of John Deere equipment which has streamlined operations at Agnire.

"Most of the driving these days is completed through the screen. All of our equipment has the same Generation 4 CommandCenter™ Display, so once you have learned how to operate that, you can go from machine to machine smoothly," Brett said.

"And, through the MyOperationsTM app, I can keep an eye on where all the machines are located from anywhere on the farm."

The precise movements of all machinery are also under strict command as the full fleet is guided by the Warrs' controlled-traffic program.

As well as saving fuel costs, Brett said controlled traffic was a more environmentally sustainable approach, as it created a lower chance of chemical overlapping and avoided unnecessary soil compaction from machinery. 

"We are extremely efficient on that side of things and our overlap is only one per cent across all operations," Brett said.

To cap it all off, the industry-leading service guarantee offered by the Warrs' local dealer was another feature which sealed the deal for them to join John Deere.

"The back-up support we receive from our John Deere dealer here in Geraldton is crucial," Brett said.

"Everything in farming comes down to timing and we only have small windows to do everything we want to do as efficiently as we can. If we have a machine parked, not doing what it's meant to do, then it costs us money."

Next generation

Both Kirrilee and Brett believe the use of precision agriculture and on-farm data will help pave the way for a sustainable future for the next generation.

Using cutting-edge John Deere technology and equipment, in conjunction with historical data, the Warrs are primed to battle whatever the climate throws at them next, and continue on their journey for long-term sustainability.

"At the end of each harvest, we crunch the numbers and are able to see what worked and what was a waste of our time," Kirrilee said.

"The mapping of our farm has become more and more important.

"We have come to understand parts of our farm need improving. We are keen to look closer at the biomass and soil structures and use data to trial how we can best maximise that land's potential.

"There are areas of our farm we could perhaps regenerate, which would give the opportunity for the next generation to take over, if it's what they wish to do."

Media Enquiries:
Stacey Wordsworth
stacey.wordsworth@bluehillpr.com.au
0438 394 371

Hannah Hardy
hannah.hardy@bluehillpr.com.au
0421 196 004

About John Deere:
Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) is a world leader in providing advanced products and services and is committed to the success of customers whose work is linked to the land - those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world's dramatically increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure. Since 1837, John Deere has delivered innovative products of superior quality built on a tradition of integrity. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at JohnDeere.com or in Australia at JohnDeere.com.au.