Behind the Farm Gate: Beer

It’s one of the world’s most popular drinks and Australia is home to some of the world’s best quality beers.

Meet VFF Member John Bennett who provides the malted barley that goes into some of our favourite brews in our next instalment of ‘Behind the Farm Gate’.

Q: Why did you become a farmer?

A: John:

There’s a number of reasons. Both my parents were farmers and from family farms and their siblings were all farmers. I think the die was cast quite early. My mother actually encouraged me to be a teacher, but I can’t ever remember wanting to do anything else but farm, and I would have been a lousy teacher!

I had two lots of inspirational grandparents who were self-made and managed to establish themselves as farmers, so I did grow up dreaming of having my own farm. Thanks to my parents, as soon as my brother and I joined our family business they made it possible for us to start buying some land.

Our farm business is definitely a family affair. My wife is a farmer in her own right and we both left our respective family businesses to farm together in our early thirties.

Our daughter Sophie and son Hamish have both chosen agriculture as their careers and have joined our family business.  We are one part of a fantastic team who also work with us.

I also love the real-estate component of farming, so I think I would enjoy being a land valuer or a real-estate agent if I wasn’t a farmer. Hats off to all the teachers out there, but I’m definitely not a teacher!

Q: What makes your product so special?

A: John

I don’t know if our product is better than anyone else’s as the quality of agricultural produce in Australia is extremely high.

We do however aspire to be as good as we possibly can in what we do, and we set high standards of production around the crops that we grow.

One of the key factors in achieving this is the ability to build good teams, timing and attention to detail. 

Q: How do you combat the challenges of climate change?

A: John:

We have always been focused on being good stewards of the land. We have extensively fenced remnant vegetation on our land and my wife is a keen tree planter.

We also own a large tract of native scrub adjacent to the Little Desert National Park for its heritage value and its ability to offset carbon. We have pasture in our farming system which builds soil carbon and we try and grow the maximum amount of produce from the inputs that we apply to a given hectare.

Timelines of operations also ensures best utilisation of given inputs and less waste.

We also try to focus on durability and extended life span in the machinery purchases we make.

I have a strong view that agriculture has a key role to play in combatting climate change through its ability to build soils and sequest carbon through crops and pasture

Q: What roles does technology play on your farm?

A: John

We use technology in our business to focus our use of inputs, mainly fertiliser and soil ameliorates on the specific areas where it is needed.

 We also use it to tailor our inputs to match the yield potential of a given season and to identify soil constraints on our property that we can potentially rectify.

Q: Tell us what makes your produce different?

A: John:

Through the origin trail programme with Asahi CUB, we have been providing malt barley direct to the maltster for the brewing of beer. My favourite beer so far would be the Carlton Draught that came from one of our malt batches.

It’s been very rewarding to see some of our barley make the journey from our paddock to the maltster and then the brewery and into a particular batch of beer and also to talk to the brewer about the brewing process.