On-farm storage a question of quality

21 Nov, 2014 01:00 AM
Something industry really needs to get their heads together and discuss

A STUDY conducted by agricultural market research firm KG2 into the attitudes towards on-farm storage (OFS) has uncovered some alarming trends regarding quality assurance (QA) and compliance.

Robert Woods, director of solutions design with KG2, said only 22 per cent of respondents in the 2014 On Farm Grain Storage Report said they had a quality assurance (QA) or compliance program in place for their grain stored on-farm.

“This figure is down 2pc from our 2011 study,” Mr Woods said.

“It is a concern that so few have these protocols in place in market increasingly wanting full traceability.”

Mr Woods said he felt farmers had so much information delivered to them they did not fully understand QA and what their responsibilities were.

“At present, I would say growers feel there is no benefit for something that can be time consuming.”

“It is something industry really needs to get their heads together and discuss.”

And he said it was not a matter of the results being skewed because of a large sample of smaller farmers.

The average production per farmer interviewed ranged from 3247 tonnes in Victoria to 5110 tonnes in Western Australia, representing higher numbers than industry averages.

In particular, he said it would be an issue for grain that is later exported.

“We have already seen issues with maximum residue levels (MRLs) impacting grain exports to Asia, so it is critical all storages have good QA systems in place.

“Even things like checking on grain in storage, we found a number of respondents did not check as often as guidelines recommend.”

Mr Woods said aside from compliance, the other major problem farmers identified was maintaining the efficacy of grain protectants and fumigants.

“Firstly, farmers have said there is an issue with correctly identifying insects and secondly there is an issue with not allowing resistance to grain treatments, in particular phosphine.”

Mr Woods said one positive was a swing towards sealed storage which can be used longer-term and means greater efficacy for the grain treatments.

The study has found the trend towards increasing OFS is moving west.

“There is obviously a lot less grain stored on-farm in the export focused states of WA and SA, but interestingly, although the stored grain in SA took up just 49 per cent of capacity, 42 per cent of growers still indicated they wanted to build more storage.

“This suggests they see OFS becoming an increasingly valuable tool for their marketing programs.”

Down the east coast, in spite of significant investment in storage in recent years, between 37pc, in Queensland, and 53pc, in Victoria, indicated they wanted to expand further.

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media


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