Meet the Muller family, grain growers in Central Queensland

The Muller family outside their farm
© Queensland Government

The Muller family, have been striving to improve their grain production practices for many years.

Scott and Krystal Muller, alongside parents Gordon and Jenny, grow wheat and chickpeas in winter and mung beans and sorghum in summer on 800ha of their 1600ha of country on Karinga, situated in Biloela.

"Like other primary producers, we want to learn, and improve what we are doing on-farm," Scott Muller said.

The Mullers contacted DAF’s Sustainable Grains Practices team who helped them to identify areas that could be  improved on their property. The DAF team worked with the Mullers to prioritise these areas and develop a plan to implement practices that improve profitability and reef water quality.

"Through DAF we knew we were on the right track with our zero till system, which we introduced 15 years ago. We've also made significant changes, such as switching to liquid injection machinery," he said.

In 2020, Mr Muller retrofitted a WeedSeeker 2 spot sprayer system onto a 3 point linkage Hardie Boom. He's using it where weed pressures are low to target weeds, which is drastically reducing his chemical costs.

Mr Muller wanted something that folded, and wing tilted during operation, as a solid or trailing system wouldn't have worked well in their undulating country, smaller paddocks and narrow contoured fields he farms. Also, being able to travel between farms with ease was a major factor.

Buying the spot sprayer reduced the amount of pesticides applied, therefore reducing the amount that could runoff into waterways that lead to the reef.

"It's especially useful for controlling the feathertop rhodes and fleabane we have here. It's saving us up to 70 per cent in chemical costs, which is a no-brainer."

Mr Muller attended DAF events including soil conservation field days aimed at reducing the movement of sediment off-farm.

"I learned how to build contour banks and hold moisture back to stop sediment runoff, while using zero till. DAF provided a lot of information on how to effectively design, build, and maintain contour banks and waterways, as well as demonstrating the impact stubble cover has on water infiltration and runoff.

"We've bought levelling gear for our contour banks, to make sure the gradient is right, as after a while the old banks fill up if they aren't draining properly."

Though this process, and in conjunction with using less chemicals and utilising liquid injection, the Muller’s soil health has improved without impacting their bottom line.

Mr Muller said the case studies DAF produces in relation to spot spraying all ties in well with what they're trying to achieve with stubble management, drainage and contour mapping.

"DAF staff give us advice on any issues we're having, and they always give us a call to see if we'd like to attend any field days nearby."

To find out more about the implications of moving to innovative farm practices, call the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on 13 25 23 or visit Farming in the Great Barrier Reef catchments.