Increased on-farm grains and pulse storage could mean big savings for growers, says handler

15 Mar 2018, 5:30 p.m.

Increased on-farm grain storage could shave at least $25 a tonne off the price of grain handling, putting more money in grower’s pockets.

That’s the view of Riordan Grains managing director, Jim Riordan.

“There will be a plethora of on-farm storage built in the next 10 years, far greater than we have ever seen before,” Mr Riordan said.

He identified increased on-farm storage as bringing the biggest productivity boost and cost savings for farmers.

Mr Riordan said bulk handlers charged between $15 and $20 a tonne to store grain. “Obviously this comes off the cash price paid.

“So, as long as growers meet the same levels of compliance as bulk handlers, give that to them.”

Mr Riordan said additional savings could be found through rigorous on-farm sampling.

“Farmers pay an average $10 – $12 to cart to the bulk handler at harvest. And say carting to the home silo costs $5, so that saves $5.

“If they are set up with correct sampling equipment and segregate their grain, they could blend up themselves and gain minimum premiums of $5.”

Ouyen grower and former Victorian Farmers Federation grains group president Ian Hastings said it was costing $90 a tonne to get product to port.

“You are looking at a port price of $270 a tonne, but we are giving a third of that away,” Mr Hastings said.

He said Mr Riordan appeared to be trying to lower the freight price.

Brian Barry, Manangatang, said a large amount of grain was already stored on farm. “We do it for a few reasons, but one in particular is so the headers can keep rolling,” Mr Barry said. “It’s much more efficient to have a chaser bin, feeding off a couple of headers.”

He said GrainCorp should encourage growers to deliver grain to its sites, throughout the year. “You are getting the business, we are keeping trucks off the road, and I think it’s a win all around.”

Bulk handler GrainCorp’s operations general manager Nigel Lotz said the company’s Project Regeneration aimed to build bigger sites, to ensure larger loads and more efficient rail turnaround.

“Grain can quite easily go from ex-farm to customers,” Mr Lotz said.

 “Keep in contact; we are happy to see you, because we are focussed in getting those costs down.”

On the rail side, productivity improvements would come from new generation wagons, which could carry a higher net weight.

“I am very passionate about agriculture, but it’s a variable game,” Mr Lotz said.

‘It’s not like the mining industry, where you can get big numbers, day in day out to support investment.”