Grain gurus give crowd key insights

Dorothy HendersonCountryman

The future of the containerised grain export trade and nitrogen use efficiency were among the topics covered at the South East Premium Wheat Growers Association harvest review.

The diverse nature of subjects covered at last month’s event reflected the variety of factors taken into account by farmers as they make management decisions in the connected world.

Trade issues, including the impact of Indian tariffs on legume exports and foreign policy announcements made by world leaders, were discussed alongside presentations that detailed latest trial findings.

Initial presenters included GRDC senior regional manager Charlie Thorn, who provided an update on the organisation’s investments and projects, and SEPWA project officers Nigel Metz, Aidan Sinnott and Alan Bassham, who gave those attending an insight into the grower group’s current projects.

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World markets were the focus of the next segment in the day’s proceedings, with markets for malting-grade grain and legumes, containerised trade and brewing discussed.

Intermalt general manager James Kirton outlined the company’s most recent achievements and talked about the inroads being made into the Vietnamese market by Australian grain.

Esperance Quality Grains owner manager Neil Wandel gave an update on the company’s progress in its quest to break into the containerised legume export game.

After Mr Wandel’s Esperance perspective on the prospects for the containerised grain trade, Rabobank senior grains and oilseeds analyst Dr Cheryl Kalisch Gordon gave a presentation that provided the East Coast experience of the trade.

He discussed the push-and-pull factors and the all-important enablers that make containerised grain trade work in a financially viable manner.

Before breaking for lunch, CBH Esperance port zone operations manager Mick Daw gave the gathering an overview of the 2017-18 harvest from the grain receival and handling perspective.

Starting with a review of the organisation’s safety record for the season, Mr Daw provided an insight into the harvest outcomes for the region.

He said actual receivals of wheat in the zone, 1,414,386 tonnes, exceeded the projected 1,436,596, and crops had yielded an average of 3t/ha across the Esperance port zone.

Mr Daw also emphasised the importance of accurate crop yield predictions in making the grain handling operations run smoothly, and spoke about the role technology was playing in making accurate forecasts.

After being given much food for thought, more than 100 people gathered to enjoy a lunch created by Ned Corner Catering, using ingredients sourced primarily from the region.

After lunch, growers were shepherded back into the Esperance Civic Centre auditorium to hear from a series of speakers who discussed production issues in the Esperance zone.

Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development research, development and innovation managing director Mark Sweetingham outlined the projects supported by the department.

DPIRD Esperance pulse guru Mark Seymour outlined the results of recent trial work. His colleagues, Jeremy Curry and Tom Edwards, discussed wheat and barley trial results with a focus on timing of nitrogen and application rates, and soil amelioration options respectively.

SEPWA member and Neridup farmer Dave Cox and Summit Fertilisers’ Nick Donkin discussed nitrogen use efficiency.

Condingup farmer Con Murphy, of Warakirri Cropping, spoke about increasing returns on investment from more sustainable farming practices.

Beaumont farmer Phil Longmire discussed the take-home messages from recent tours of India and the Ukraine.

CBH chief executive Jimmy Wilson also provided an update on the group’s operations.

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