Ton van Dijk is an experimenter.
Whether it's varieties of grain crops, rye grasses or soil/fertiliser treatments, for every sowing he has his own anecdotal trials going on.
His 283 hectare dryland farm at Winnindoo is intensively cropped in rotation, with 186ha in crop and the rest in pasture, running 220 head of cattle as well as agistment stock.
When he was offered the chance to trial a relay crop by Gippsland Agricultural Group over summer, funded by the Future Drought Fund, he took the opportunity.
A 10ha paddock of barley and a 22ha paddock of wheat were aerially sown in early December with a multi-species blend that included buck wheat, sunflowers, cowpeas, tillage radish, turnips and clovers.
The idea of 'relay' cropping is to have the second crop in the ground before harvesting the standing crop, so the paddock is not left in fallow.
While the trial wasn't a roaring success, Mr van Dijk said it "wasn't a failure".
"There was only the odd sunflower here and there, but the buck wheat came up and a lot of clovers took," Mr van Dijk said.
"The radish and turnips were okay as well, wherever you walked in the paddock through the stubble you could see something had struck."
Typically, Mr van Dijk also direct drilled a third paddock as a comparison in sowing methods which seemed to be more effective.
"With the aerial sowing you really have to have favourable weather conditions," he said.
He has made plenty of observations since finishing the trial and believes the lessons lie in the timing, the season and the species selection.
"You've got to have the weather with you and if we had sown earlier it would have been much different," he said.
"The barley was harvested just a week after that sowing but the wheat gave too much competition.
"If I did it again, I would sow earlier but would also have to adjust the summer mix. I would probably put a little sorghum and millet in to bulk it up a bit.
"More homework has to go into it, you have to weigh up what's worth money and what's not.
"It probably also would have been better to sow spring wheat or barley after the multispecies rather than canola but that was what my rotation was."
Mr van Dijk said he was a big advocate for growing tillage radish as part of a multispecies crop because of the benefits it brought to the soil.
"Each plant in the mix has a job to do, the radish penetrates subsoil and the clay, the buckwheat fixes phosphorous and makes it available to following crops and sunflowers do the same with trace elements," he said.
This year Mr van Dijk, who is originally from Holland but has been on his Winnindoo farm for 12 years, had to bring in agistment cattle to help keep on top of the feed he produced.
Over the summer and autumn 230, 150-kilogram Friesian heifers were brought in as well as 86, 400kg joined Friesians, the two mobs grazing the 32ha demonstration across two to five weeks.
"Because we are a smaller than average farm, if we don't do what we're doing I would have to work off-farm," he said of his operation's intensive nature," Mr van Dijk said.
"Whatever grows over the summer months I graze. The moment the pastures start to run out of steam I have a summer crop somewhere that can put them on."
His steers are now grazing his winter wheat that was sown on March 14, taking pressure off the pastures.
They will come off the crop before the nodes start to come up, about August 15, and the wheat will be harvested later in the year.
If anything, the multispecies trial has strengthened his idea that summer cropping is extremely valuable.
The statistics from the moisture probe in the paddock show the soil moisture profile hasn't been under 85% for a year and Mr van Dijk has found the cover over summer enhanced the soil an made the profile a little drier.
Unsurprisingly he ran a trial last year in a paddock which he left half in fallow and half with a summer crop that included millet, peas and sunhemp.
"I sowed spring wheat and there was 2/t ha difference in yield," he said.
"The mixed crop half was nice and dry, good for the drill and it was up in seven days, whereas the 'clean' paddock was a struggle to get the crop in the ground and took three weeks to come up.
The first crop yielded 7t/ha while the chemical fallow half came in at 5t/ha.
"And that was in a wet year," he said.
He advises "close your eyes in summer and just chuck it in, it'll sit there until there's a thunderstorm and then it'll go".
"If it's still in the bag it won't grow."
Gippsland Agricultural Group general manager, Jen Smith, said the findings of the relay cropping trial paddocks at Winnindoo, Forge Creek, Giffard and Orbost would be collated and written up in August.
"It's important, even in these wet times, that we're helping farmers find out about different crops and what works so we can all gain resilience and knowledge for when times aren't so good," Ms Smith said.