AN OLD-school harvester has been the key to a good return for young Gilgandra farmer Adam Howard.
Using a 726 International power-take-off header pulled by a 1486 International tractor, Mr Howard stripped 32 hectares of Commander barley (sown in June) on his leased property, "Lochwood".
Keeping costs to a minimum by using his own machinery has meant Mr Howard is pocketing a decent profit for his efforts.
"It's cheap and it does the job," he said.
"The header doesn't owe me anything, and I only have small acres."
Mr Howard strips about 16 hectares a day.
"For a contractor to come in and do that work, I'd be looking at around $5000 to $6000, so I choose to just do it myself."
Mr Howard had 121ha of crop on leased properties across the area, which yielded 220 tonnes.
"It went close to around three quarters of a tonne to the acre (1.85t/ha)," he said.
"My crops were just hanging on when we got around two inches (50 millimetres) of rain... it was right when we needed it, so I was lucky."
He said his local area had experienced a mixed harvest.
"It's been a funny season... some people here were finished before the time when they'd normally be starting," he said.
"I was happy with the cash price so I sold mine straight away."
Mr Howard works as a mechanic in the Hunter Valley on a "five day on, five day off" roster, returning to Gilgandra in between to manage his blocks.
He has been farming for three years.
"I'm happy, because this has been my best year yet," he said.