Cowra, NSW

Ed and James Fagan are third generation vegetable growers having taken over from their father Peter, the running of the 1,400 hectare farm on the banks of the Lachlan River near Cowra, NSW.

Mulyan Farms has been growing broadacre crops since 1886 and in 1943  venture into vegetables with the opening of the local cannery.

Today Peter enjoys retirement, and while the cannery is now closed the boys have diversified into baby leaf spinach, lettuce and popping corn, while continuing to grow beetroot, onions, asparagus, as well as dryland wheat and canola.

During the 1950s, 60s and 70s vegetable soil management practices were quite hard on the soil, but at the time it wasn’t evident what we were doing in the long term to the soil. The light soils along the river lost their organic matter and structure. More cultivation was required and nutrients were easily leached below the shallow crop root zones, adding cost and acidifying the soil.

Ed and James have taken a whole farm approach to rebuilding the soils on Mulyan Farms after more than 60 years of intensive cultivation and vegetable cropping. Carefully planned crop rotations, reduced tillage and cover crops have all been used to revitalize the soil and enhance its productivity.  

Ed and James have made great progress and are now working with the Soil Wealth team to further refine their use of cover crops to build soil organic matter and structure, cycle nutrients, optimize nitrogen use and control weeds.  Caliente and Nemclear mustards, ryegrass, field peas, clover and compost are all being trialled in their reduced till permanent beds system.