We’re pretty proud of the way we operate things here at Wild Horse Turf and so thought we would give you a sneak peek into the working of our Sunshine Coast turf farm. To kick things off, we thought you might like the inside scope on the harvesting process thanks to owner-operator Dean.
Not only does he have pretty impressive batting average, thanks to an annual cricket competition we host at the farm once a year, but he has an eye for detail and ensures every slab of turf that leaves the property top shape.
Strict quality control practices put in place
Dean says being a turf farmer is not just a matter of watching grass grow. Wild Horse Turf prides itself on growing only the best quality grass and making sure it’s free of weeds and other pests before it’s delivered to customers.
“We’re always keeping an eye out to make sure it’s free of weeds and free of any grubs. Basically we work hard to make sure our turf is as healthy as possible so when it lands at someone’s place it will take root as well as possible,” Dean says.
“As well as visually inspecting our grass, we use liquid fertiliser, it works quicker and does a great job of making turf thrive. Importantly, it also helps promote a deep root system so turf will established faster when it is laid.
“Also, all of the crew have been trained up so they know what to look for with grubs and weeds, that way it’s not just my eyes looking at it. We’ve got three different properties all within a 5km radius and as they drive from place to place they can identify any potential problems and stamp them out as quickly as possible.”
Making sure the grass is always greener
Wild Horse Turf has watering systems are in place so pastures are always green regardless of whether Mother Nature is playing the rain game or not. Dean says the importance of having an efficient irrigation system cannot be overstated because it ensures the grass is never stressed when growing.
“The day before we harvest we give another soaking to ensure moisture levels are right for harvesting and so the roots don’t dry out. It’s a balancing act that we have mastered over the years,” he says.
How your turf is harvested
At Wild Horse Turf all grass is cut to order, this means it’s not cut days ahead of time and left lying around. Once an order is made Dean and his team get to work prepping the turf for harvest. During the cooler months the cutting process can happen in the late afternoon or evening the night before the delivery because it won’t heat on the pallets like it will in the warmer months.
In summer all harvesting is done on the morning of delivery and usually Dean and his crew are up with the birds for a respectable 6am start. But before harvesting begins in earnest, the incredibly particular crew at Wild Horse Turf give the turf a ‘little mow’ to make sure it has no clip on it.
Once happy with the state of the turf, Dean fires up Triple M on the wireless and starts his day with mowing and music! While harvesting is taking place someone is on the forklift getting the slabs on to pallets.
“All turf is cut to order because the last thing we want is it to dry up on pallets. In the middle of the summer, especially here in the Sunshine Coast, grass has to be back on the ground with 24 hours – in winter you might get away with 48 hours. But best practice is turf should be laid as soon it’s delivered,” Dean says.
Why certain varieties of grass are harvested first
“All cutting is done with the same mechanical harvester. With the Empire Zoysia and Tropika we don’t leave anything behind and the grass grows back from root or rhizomes. When we harvest Palmetto and Sapphire Soft-Leaf Buffalo we leave a strip, like a thin a ribbon of grass,” he says.
“We harvest in a particular order to ensure cross-contamination doesn’t occur. Couch is one we have to keep an eye out for. So we usually cut the Buffalo, then Zoysia and finally the couch. Once we’ve finished harvesting we clean the machine and park it in the shed ready for the next day.”
Always getting his nose into everything is Wild Horse Turf’s family dog Max. Full of beans, Dean says while Max isn’t on the payroll, he’s usually involved in some part of the farming process and is especially gifted at greeting visitors!
And how often do you harvest?
Dean says as long as the grass isn’t too wet the Wild Horse Turf crew harvest daily in order to fill an average of five different deliveries a day, give or take a little. Actually, when things in are in full swing the team cut a pallet of grass (50 metres) every five minutes.
So there you have a little, a little behind-the-scene look into the harvesting process. If you’d like to come and visit our farm, just call us here and we’ll make it happen – we’re on 5496 9790.