SAVINGS OF up to £43/ha can be realised from canny buying in the arable sector, according to agricultural co-operative, Anglia Farmers. Dairy farmers can also save five-figure sums by purchasing in a group.

Director Steve Wright has set up a model farm of 400ha (1000 acres), which was used for benchmarking the best and the worst prices for agricultural inputs over a 12-month period.

“The results show that forward purchasing makes total sense,” says Mr Wright, who also farms in Norfolk. “They highlight the benefits of purchasing inputs on a planned basis and through a buying group.”

The model takes a typical crop mix for East Anglia – 120ha (300 acres) of winter wheat, 80ha (200 acres) each of sugar beet and potatoes, and 40ha (100 acres) each of winter barley, spring barley and set-aside/countryside stewardship.

Mr Wright calculated savings of 30% on fertiliser, 15% on agrochemicals and 15% on feed. This equates to an overall saving of £43/ha (£17/acre) or an annual saving of £15,600. Savings from group purchasing non-core products such as electricity, phones, healthcare and vehicles are even greater.

A cropping plan more suited to other parts of the country also shows savings of £40/ha (£16/acre), equal to £14,440 a year. The model is based on 360ha (890 acres) equally split between winter wheat, winter barley and oilseed rape, with 40ha in set aside and Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

But these savings were dwarfed by the potential in the dairy sector, according to Anglia Farmers’ chief executive, Clarke Willis. The average bottom line profit when a 160-cow dairy farmer bought in a group was 31,500, compared to 8520 buying individually, he said.