Ben Pontifex

Ben Pontifex

Kangaroo Island, SA


The challenges of growing crops on Kangaroo Island off South Australia have seen Ben Pontifex searching for solutions.

He has bought his own plane to carry out some of the management of his crops. By using aerial sowing, fertilising and spraying, and not tractors and equipment, he has decreased the chance of erosion caused by the traffic on the soil as well as increased the timeliness of these applications.

Despite the challenges, he is still happy that the family chose to expand their operation to the island which has the potential to grow large amounts of high-quality grain.

It has taken a change of mindset to adopt different farming methods to those applied on the family’s other farms on the Yorke Peninsula.

He is now convinced though, that improved accuracy in farming has come from the need to use newer and more expensive chemistry to achieve maximum yields of high quality grain.

“We are more confident to use these more expensive chemicals now because we are getting a higher application accuracy and not wasting any,” he says.

Sowing, spraying and fertilising are now done by air, which means that crop management programs can be carried out even if the paddocks are too wet.

This not only improves timeliness but means the paddocks have less machinery passing over them, decreasing the chance of erosion.

Ben says planning is always important for a farming enterprise, but those plans need to be flexible in the fickle environment on Kangaroo Island.

“We are open to trying any new initiatives that will make us better growers and keep within budgets,” he says.

“A better all-round planning structure now has us in a good space, and we seem to be ahead of the pack at last.”