CHENOA – The vast corn and soybean fields of McLean County captivated some Australian visitors Tuesday afternoon.
The tour of Clayton Rosenberger’s farm near Chenoa included over 30 clients of John Deere dealerships in western Australia, which is traditionally a large cereal cropping area. Growers in that part of the world grow mainly wheat with some barley and canola.
“We do have some legume crops similar to soybeans, but predominately where we are it’s all dry land cropping,” explained Ross Rithers, CEO of Ag Implements.
Unlike Central Illinois, western Australia experiences very little rainfall and growers there use different types of machinery while the farms are often larger. John Nicoletti farms 350,000 acres in Australia and is currently one of the largest family farmers in the country. He also owns Ag Implements, which includes six dealership outlets.
Nicoletti has quite a bit of wheat and has increased his sheep numbers over the years. He has around 40,000 ewes.
“We sell our lambs for air freight into Asia,” Nicoletti said.
How does Nicoletti get everything done? His operation includes eight full-time employees, 15 part-timers and more during the busy harvest season. The weather has been very dry in Australia this year with very little rainfall. Since Nicoletti has been away, rain has fallen so he hopes that pattern continues.
Nicoletti’s part of the country experienced a wet summer followed by a dry planting season. He said it is “mind boggling” to see acres upon acres of corn and soybeans in Illinois.
“It’s beautiful and green,” he said. “We just come from a very dry continent to say the least.”
It was 16 years ago when Nicoletti first got into the dealership business. He started with one outlet and kept expanding. He said business is good since he knows the farmer’s needs because he too is a farmer. If someone buys a big tractor or just a few spare parts, Nicoletti’s philosophy is to always look out for the customer.
Rosenberger was glad to host the Australians on his farm and said he will remember the day for a long time. Out of all the places in the world, Australia is one he would like to visit.
“I figured this is as close as I’ll ever get to it because it’s a 22-hour flight from what they are telling me.”
Growers on the other side of world use vertical tillage equipment and field cultivators but don’t use planters since most of the crops are air seeded. They were very impressed with the large planter parked next to Rosenberger’s lane.
“It’s just a totally different part of the world,” Rosenberger added.
In addition to the stop at the Rosenberger farm, the group toured the museums in Pontiac and the Prairie Central Cooperative grain elevator north of town. They plan to continue touring the historic path of Route 66 in the coming days.