THE GAP in profitability between the top and bottom 25% of arable producers continues to grow, according to latest survey results.

A survey of ProCam‘s 4cast customers for 2003/04 found that despite reduced margins for nearly all growers, the top quartile achieved margins around 30% more than average.

“Our last full year of figures in 2003 showed that without Area Aid the top 25% of producers achieved margins of £612/ha for first wheat, compared to an average of £464/ha,” said ProCam‘s Nick Myers.

Top oilseed rape producers achieved margins of £515/ha – some £151/ha more than average, he noted.

Growers must focus on increasing yields and driving down costs – both fixed and variable, as the margin for error is now narrower than ever, he said.

The total cost of seed, fertiliser and sprays for the top 25% of wheat growers was £23/tonne, £6/t lower than the average figure and over £10/t less than the bottom 25% of growers, Mr Myers said.

“At current and prospective crop prices, minimising the cost per tonne is the real key to maintaining a successful arable business.”

Analysis of these results will be the subject of a series of farmer conferences this spring, details for which can be found at www.procam4cast.co.uk.