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Better On Farm Storage Techniques in Australia are Emerging

By Matt Coleborne

Summary

With the amount of Australian grain crops stored on farm likely to increase, it’s vital that best practice is followed so grain remains in good condition for long periods of time. With the Australian standard AS2628 in place for gas tight storage for growers fumigating against grain storage pests, Centaur sensors provide the most sophisticated and accurate way to continually measure what’s happening inside the silos.

Article

A significant research report was recently released in Australia by Andrew Freeth, a dryland broadacre cropping and livestock farmer in the Gilgandra region of New South Wales.

The report ‘On Farm Storage and Grain Supply Chain – Unravelling the Logistics and Marketing Puzzle’ was developed over 2 years as a Nuffield Scholar with funding support from the Grain Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Timely for the Australian market, the report details recommendations for moving grain to market in an efficient, cost-effective manner, while considering the future state of the industry.

One of the ways growers look for competitive advantage in Australia is through improved efficiency in supply chain logistics domestically and into export markets. Mr Freeth says:

“In order to capitalise on these opportunities, growers are looking at newer, more innovative ways to reduce their supply chain costs and boost their profitability.

One of these is investing in On Farm Storage (OFS), a growing trend being driven by harvest logistics and capacities, upcountry grain storage networks, increasing production of pulse and specialty crops, amongst a range of other industry and government incentives.”

However, for growers, there isn’t a simple approach that works for everyone. There’s a combination of factors to be considered, from build quality, cost and ease of the ongoing management and monitoring of OFS.

A storage solution is a major piece of infrastructure for a farm enterprise and can have a working life in excess of 30 years. With the recent innovation and technology developments agriculture has seen just over the last 3 years, it’s hard to imagine how some of these infrastructure assets will integrate with the evolution of modern farming practices.

One such innovation already rolling out to parts of Europe and North America is our Centaur platform and sensors. Part of an end to end monitoring and alert system, we have developed a precise monitoring solution of quality and storage conditions for OFS.

The Centaur platform uses real-time data from sensors, that can move with each crop, giving users an unprecedented capacity to track, monitor and instantly adjust conditions to prevent spoilage and reduce unnecessary chemical use.

Freeth suggests in his research that once growers establish which OFS system they want to proceed with, they need to develop a robust pest management strategy, so as to reduce input costs and risks on farm. “Simply building OFS and filling it with grain does not guarantee success” he stated.

Over the 2-year research period, Freeth was able to study how growers in the US manage their harvests and noted that OFS has a much larger market share. He believes there is no reason why OFS in Australia can’t reach levels of 50% with the trend being driven by:

  • Harvest logistics and increased harvester capacities,
  • Rationalisation of the upcountry grain storage network.
  • The increased area sown to pulse and specialty crops.
  • Government incentives to invest.
  • Increases in overall grain production.
  • Greater willingness of growers to have more control of their grain path to market following strong recent returns from selling grain ex-farm rather than through the Bulk-Handler system.

In Australia already, we have a number of growers slated to run pilots of the Centaur platform in their OFS this year and we’re looking to work more closely with the GRDC to facilitate knowledge sharing and the benefits of our innovation with the broader agriculture community in Australia.

If you’d like to be involved, please contact me directly in Australia by email at matt@centaur.ag.

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