MARSHALL - A spring planting clinic held at Schuneman Equipment in Marshall this week turned out to have an international reach. A group of six visitors from Australia were at the event along with area farmers. The group was in Marshall on Tuesday morning, on one leg of a longer trip to receive professional training and visit friends and family in the United States.
"We've seen a lot in a short time," said Jill Wedd, one of the visitors.
The visiting group was made up of Robert and Jill Wedd and Harry and Bernadette Redding, who all work in John Deere equipment sales and service in South Australia, and farmers Peter and Marie Glover.
Photo by Deb Gau
Visitors from Australia, including, from left, Harry Redding, Marie Glover and Robert Wedd, took a break from attending a planting clinic and open house event at Schuneman Equipment to talk about farming and the farm implement business in their home country.
The visitors hail from the Eyre Peninsula, a mostly agricultural region near the coast of South Australia, a state in the south-central part of the country. Major crops include small grains like wheat and barley. Despite some big differences in population and climate, Harry Redding said farmers there use much of the same machinery Minnesota farmers do.
"It's interesting to hear about the similarities, when the two places are so different," said Schuneman sales manager Tom Schuneman. The Schuneman family has known the Glovers for a long time, and that was another reason for their visit to the Marshall dealership.
Harry Redding said part of the group's itinerary will include John Deere company training in Florida. It was good to have an opportunity to learn more from the company, and to see how other John Deere dealerships operate, he said. The knowledge gained on the trip will help the group grow and manage its own business.
"Everyone's been very candid, very open," Redding said - implement dealers back home would have been less likely to share details of their business, because of competition.
Peter Glover said they would also be touring John Deere factories, and hopefully he and Marie would even get to see two new combines for their farm come off the assembly line in Moline, Ill.
Many things about farm life in southern Australia are vastly different from the American Midwest, the group said.
Farms tend to be larger than they are in southwestern Minnesota, and the population is much less dense.
"You could drive almost 50 miles and not see a house," Harry Redding said.
The soil is also much lighter, and water is scarcer. Some parts of the region may receive only 8 to 10 inches of rain a year, Redding said.
"Every structure has a cistern to collect rainwater," Marie Glover said. "It's critical for us."
One of the striking things about visiting this part of America, Peter Glover said, "Is how much fresh water is just running out of the ground here." Rivers and freshwater lakes are also a rarity in their part of Australia.
The group's trip wasn't all business. So far, they've had a chance to do some sightseeing, including a visit to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. While there wasn't much snow to be found in South Dakota or Minnesota this year, group members joked that they were able to take pictures of themselves by a patch of lake ice. The Glovers said they'll also be spending time visiting friends and family in different parts of the country.
"It's more about the friendships, really," Marie Glover and the other visitors said of their trip.