Riverina grower leads the trend to Monola

Riverina irrigator, Wayne Williams, is one of a growing number of farmers to plant Monola®, a healthy alternative to other cooking oils developed over the past 10 years by global seed company, Nuseed.

After many years of growing canola, Mr Williams made the switch to Monola three years ago because it was more secure to market and offered better returns than canola.

“Agronomically and visually, Monola is no different to grow than canola, but with the premiums on offer, I’d recommend Monola to any farmer looking to include canola in their rotation,” he said.

Monola oil is becoming more popular in the food industry as a healthy alternative to cooking oils containing high levels of saturated and trans fats.

This season, crushers in selected regions of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia are offering farmers a $95/tonne premium for triazine-tolerant Monola varieties and a $65/tonne premium for Roundup Ready Monola.

As a result, farmers like Wayne Williams and his wife, Kelly-Anne, plan to grow 100 hectares of Nuseed Monola this season.

The Williams run Kenlock Cropping, an irrigated mixed farming operation over 500 hectares at Whitton on the Murrumbidgee River in the Riverina. They grow lucerne in rotation with Monola, barley and summer crops like soybeans and maize as well as grazing sheep.

While lucerne seed crops and hay are the backbone of their operation, the Williams are opportunity croppers who take advantage of irrigation water coupled with market and seasonal conditions to improve their bottom line wherever possible.

Mr Williams had grown canola for many years when he was first encouraged to grow Monola by Riverland Oilseeds (now Graincorp Oilseeds) in 2011, who offered a $50/tonne premium for the grain and on-farm pick-up.

“Nuseed and local crushers have done a great job in marketing Monola oil as a healthy alternative to other cooking oils,” he said.

“At average yields of 2.5 t/ha, oil levels above 40% and good disease resistance, Monola is just like money in the bank, compared with canola,” Mr Williams said.

This season, the premium payment for Monola has increased, with crushers in selected regions of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia offering farmers a $95/tonne premium payment for triazine-tolerant Monola varieties and a $65/tonne premium for Roundup Ready Monola.

Willbriggie has been nominated as a local delivery site for Monola for the 2014 season.

Preparing for Monola

In a typical rotation, the lucerne stands are sprayed out after four or five years and Monola is direct drilled into raised beds after pre-watering.

This enables Mr Williams to use a Group I herbicide like Lontrel to control any volunteer lucerne in the Monola crops before going back into barley and summer crops.

In 2013, he grew two Monola varieties from Nuseed, the early to mid-season open pollinated variety, 413TT, and a smaller area of 513GT, Nuseed’s first Roundup Ready Monola variety.

“Both varieties performed well, with very little difference between them,” Mr Williams said.

“Compared with canola, I like the fact that Monola tends to grow a bit shorter, so it’s less prone to falling over and I can direct head it, rather than windrowing it.

“While hybrid canola may outyield Monola by two to three per cent, Monola still comes out ahead when you weigh this up against the cost of hybrid canola seed.”

Mr Williams generally follows his Monola with a 90-day barley crop which is harvested in November before he sows a summer crop of soybeans. Paddocks are then returned to lucerne for several years.

“Monola and lucerne make a good partnership because of the disease break they provide for barley and other crops,” Mr Williams said.

“It’s a busy operation, but I like growing crops that we see through to the end and deliver to our customers, whether they live locally or in the Hunter Valley, Sydney or other regions of New South Wales and northern Victoria.”

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Alan Wright from Nuseed (left) talks to Wayne Williams from Kenlock Cropping, Whitton, about his plans to grow Monola this season.