Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Survey finds favour

A tool designed to provide cereal growers with the information they need to make informed planting and selling decisions is finding appeal with the wider grain industry.

The survey of cereal areas and volumes is produced three times a year as part of the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) and is a summary of harvest production, actual and intended plantings of wheat, barley, oats, maize silage and maize grains, volumes held in on-farm storage, and quantities sold.

Nick Pyke: Accurate information.

It has been running for three years and is designed to highlight trends in production, sales and storage, allowing growers to make informed decisions around planting, pricing and trading.

The Foundation for Arable Research does the survey. Its CEO, Nick Pyke, said the survey had evolved, initially by reducing its frequency from four times a year to three, and by increasing the number of grower participants to 180, thereby improving the accuracy of the information gathered.

The decision to reduce its frequency was to make it more compatible with the time requirements of participating growers and to make the data relevant for planting and selling decisions.

Pyke said the survey contributors were on a constantly revolving roster system, with data from 30 new participants included every year with the same number dropping off.

Participating growers represented a wide geographical spread and proportionally represented the number of cereal growers in their respective regions.

Once the information from the survey has been collected and collated, the results are discussed by a panel made up of representatives from growers, FAR and grain and seed merchants. This ensures the data gathered is compatible with what is happening in the field.

Last year’s surveys highlighted a surplus of feed wheat being held on farms. Pyke believes this contributed to farmers electing to plant alternative crops last spring.

While highlighting this surplus might have a negative impact on prices for feed wheat, Pyke said the survey provided transparency so farmers knew what was happening in terms of volumes being held on farm and what was in the ground. He had been surprised by how well it had been received by the grain merchants.

“They are using the survey to reinforce their own information and provide confidence in their figures.”

It also helped them in dealing with farmers because everyone was clear about where the market was.

Cereal growers’ feedback has been positive and dairy farmers have signed up for the survey because they can see its value to their businesses. The Ministry for Primary Industries has also been making use of the information.

With three years’ survey information on hand, Pyke said they were beginning to see trends and could pinpoint reasons for fluctuations in yield and planting, selling and storing decisions. The data also highlighted areas where further research was needed.

For Greendale-based arable farmer Syd Worsfold, the survey information is invaluable.

As a cereal grower he said it was important to keep up with trends and know what was happening with other growers in other regions.

“You often have a gut feeling for these sorts of things but often the numbers are surprising.”

Syd and his son Earl concentrate on growing milling wheat, but information provided by the survey indicated it would be to their advantage to concentrate on the higher-grade milling wheat.

“The area in milling wheat has been back in recent years so perhaps there is an opportunity there for us.”

They are also growing 100ha of peas on contract which they secured in the knowledge that there was a surplus of feed grain being carried over into next season.

The Worsfolds have a mix of autumn and spring-sown crops, but it is the information in the survey that will influence their spring sowing decisions.

Syd said the survey ensured transparency in the industry, and enabled farmers to make informed decisions.

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