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J.P O’Brien Farm: Organic crops in the rolling hills of Southeast Qld

Surrounded by picturesque rolling hills in Derrymore, Southeast Qld, John O’Brien’s farm has been in the O’Brien family since 1909. Originally a working dairy farm, John spent his childhood milking cows before converting the farm for cropping after he took over the running of the property from his grandfather in 1990. Despite the soil and climate not being ideal for grain, John has successfully cultivated many crops over the years.

John currently farms 160 acres of Triticale crop, a hybrid of rye and wheat which is in high demand with livestock producers. Following a long period of drought, he has successfully been able to grow his first crop in 5 years.

After good germination of his winter Triticale, the recent dry spell which occurred during a critical time for grain forming is now threatening the quality of his crop. This dry spell, coupled with a late frost and pest concerns, has John worried that all his hard work will culminate in producing an expensive green manure.

Regardless of these issues, John remains passionate and committed to organic farming. He regularly goes out into the fields to pull unruly weeds by hand when required. With this continued perseverance, weed pressure continues to decrease each year, leaving beautiful fields of organic grain undulating in the wind. John decided against the use of synthetic chemicals as he has witnessed a number of his friends pass away from cancer, which, in his opinion, was related to the number of chemicals used on their own farms – a concern shared by many farmers in the area.

John proudly continues to practice organic farming and uses no synthetic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides or sprays on his farm property. He sells the majority of his organic grain to Kialla Pure Foods, located just 30 mins from his farm, for processing. John continues to experiment with new crops and is looking to plant sunflowers next year, watch this space for a beautiful yellow patch in Derrymore soon!

Images by Louise Wright Photography