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Category Archives: Farming Tips

RUOKAY? 10 Tips to Help Clear Your Mind in the Tractor.

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Anxiety and depression are common in farming communities year round; however, it is no surprise that it can also be very seasonal. During hay, harvest, and seeding farmers spend endless hours alone, in a tractor, with just their thoughts (negative or positive.)

It is absolutely crucial that we are asking our friends and family members how they are doing, and how they are feeling because you never know what their answer may be.

Today is R U Okay Day, and this week was the beginning of hay cutting for many, which will quickly roll into harvest.

With mental health at the forefront of our minds we have come up with a few ideas to help you pass the time with a positive head-space:

  1. Listen to the Radio. We would love to tell you which one, but let’s be real, just listen to the clearest!
  2. Pack your AUX cord. When the radio starts to get repetitive and you can no longer handle the headbangers or love ballads, make the switch to your own music. We suggest getting Spotify Premium so you can play any playlist, anytime.
  3. Get amongst some audio books or podcasts. These are huge at the moment, and there are so many good ones getting around.
  4. Check your posture. Sitting for such a long period of time will do nothing but create bad habits in your posture. When you start to notice it happen take a minute to stretch out (even if you do look like a giraffe in a porta-loo). Bringing a tennis ball in the cab to put behind your back will also help loosen up those muscles.
  5. Kick off your boots – get comfy!
  6. Pre-pack your thermos, so when morning tea time arrives you have a nice hot cuppa to comfort you and the crops. NOTE: Try to avoid eating and drinking all things before 10 am.
  7. Keep your cab clean. A clean space always makes for a better attitude. Keep wet wipes handy and eliminate the dust.
  8. Make a phone call, or invite a friend! Human interaction really isn’t a bad thing. See who wants to join you for an hour or two, or call a friend/family member you haven’t spoken to in a while (that is, if you have service).
  9. Download some boredom buster apps. Games such as Timberman, Tetris Blitz, and Quiz Up are great for passing time without clogging up your mind.
  10. Plan a holiday! Sure your harvest may not be going to plan, but think about the next time you and your mates or family can get away for a weekend of fishing or R&R.

We hope that this list can encourage you to get off social media, sit back and enjoy your time in the paddock with nothing but positive thoughts.

Everyday 8 Australians die from suicide, today (and every other day) is a great day to ask your mates how they’re going. So be a mate, and check on your mates.

“For those making a living from the land, there is some evidence to suggest that the farm environment is hazardous to mental health, with farmers experiencing high rates of stress and depression. In Australia, male farmers die by suicide at rates significantly higher than the general population and non-farming rural males.” – Mendoza J, Rosenberg S. (2010)

Feeling down and don’t know who you can talk to? Follow these links to start a conversation with someone today.
The Ripple Effect
R U OKAY?
Beyond Blue
Lifeline

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Safe burning practices Western Australia

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As we are reaching the peak of paddock burning across the state, we thought it wise to recap a few best practice tips for burning. They might be obvious, but who knows they might be the gentle reminder some people need- especially after such a bountiful harvest the fuel load in some areas is much higher than normal.

Cool fires are often a slow burn, relatively low burning temperature and flame height, and are usually easier to control. Hot fires are fires with intense heat and high flames, best practice is to ensure a back burn is in place, and you are well prepared prior to lighting a hot fire.
Consider fuel load, temperature, fire breaks, humidity, wind direction, and your available resources prior to burning. All are major influencers upon fire behaviour and ensuring a safe, but effective outcome. Keep in mind a hot still day can be just as dangerous as a strong wind, as fires create their own wind and can change the fire’s front rapidly.
Ensure you have enough available labour to safely execute a burn along with excellent communication methods. All participants should be outfitted with proper safety equipment including heat resistant overall, face masks, goggles, and clean drinking water.
Another factor you should prepare for is an emergency plan should the fire get out of control. Every person involved should have a role from communicating to neighbours and calling local authorities to refilling of fire suppression equipment.
Stay safe as we approach seeding, as we said there are some heavy fuel loads around! If you are unsure if you have enough people or equipment to safely burn, speak to local authorities. Better to be safe than sorry!

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What every farmer needs to know about hiring backpackers

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We realise legislation is changing quickly surrounding backpackers and it can be a bit confusing to stay up to date. Use this information as a guide only, as you might need to seek professional advice. Under Fairwork your legal responsibilities for hiring backpackers are the same as employing any other person.
• What are the requirements for employing casual staff? The legal requirements for employing casual staff (including backpackers) are the same as employing any other person. Casual staff do not get sick leave nor do they accrue annual leave, so they are paid at a higher rate than full time and part time employees.
• What visa should they hold? A “backpacker” is one that has entered Australia on a visa subclass 417 or visa subclass 462.
• How can I check what visa the backpacker is on? And if they have the right to work?Prior to commencing employment it is a good idea to check with VEVO. This is the Visa Entitlement Verification Online service of the Australia Border Protection.
• How do I register to be an employer of a backpacker with the ATO? As at January 1, 2017 anyone wishing to employ a backpacker must register with the ATO. You can register here using the employer registration tool provided by the ATO.
• How do I tax a backpacker? According to the ATO here on February 2, 2017- The 15% tax rate only applies to salary and wages paid from 1 January 2017. You must register to withhold at this rate.If you don’t register, you must use the foreign resident withholding rates which start at 32.5% for the first $37,000. Penalties apply if you employ a working holiday maker with visa subclass 417 or 462 and you don’t register as an employer of working holiday makers.
• What is the award farm workers? As of July 1, 2016 there was a state award for farm workers in Western Australia. You can find the details here. However, your business structure whether sole trader, company, or trust will affect the award applicable to your business.
• Can I end the employment without notice? Casual staff can be terminated without notice if they are not covered by an award of agreement. However, assuming you are employing a backpacker for the purpose of farm work in Western Australia they will be covered under the WA Farm Employees award in which 1 weeks notice is required prior to termination.
• How do I trial an employee without needing to give them 1 weeks notice? A casual contract stating the length of employment is the best method forward. You can renew the contract after the trial has ended.

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