Farmer Eric Watson Smashes Wheat Growing Record
Ashburton farmer Eric Watson has broken the world record for the greatest wheat yield, with a “staggering” 16.91-tonnes/ha crop that left the current record of 16.5 tonnes held in the UK in its dust, 1 News reported.
But as journalist Lisa Davies found out the road to glory has not been an easy one.
Watson has farmed at Wakanui for over 20 years and he said this record is a pinnacle.
“Now it’s back here again, which is very good for our arable industry, because we’re quite a small industry,” he said.
Watson’s wife Maxine calls this a labour of love.
“Farming is his life. He eats, breathes and sleeps farming. The thing that gives him the most pleasure is to grow a really good paddock of wheat, and he’s grown a really good paddock of wheat,” she said.
Two years ago, Watson and crop science advisor David Weith decided to go for the record together. Winter wheat, variety Oakley, was used for this record attempt and was planted on 9 April 2016.
“We’ve learnt a heck of a lot in the last two years about growing wheat,” Weith said.
And about the rigorous process to break a world record. The paddock had to be surveyed to prove that it was exactly the right size for a world record-breaking attempt, and once they had the figures, it took just four days for the Guinness Book of Records to put them up on the website.
“We had a team around on the day of harvest who were about 16 or 17 people,” Weith said. “They don’t make it easy.”
If Watson’s record is broken he said, “You can always do better.”
“And that’s the way I farm.”
The Watsons won the 2011 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Award and the Environment Canterbury water efficiency award.
Original article by Lisa Davies, TVNZ, April 1, 2017.