1 December 1995

Plan ahead for crop inputs

ARABLE growers should plan crop inputs with an agronomist at the start of the season. Too many rely on last-minute advice which can mean paying more for products which often run into short supply, visitors to the FarmTech arable centre were told.

Alan Bide of Hampshire Arable Systems and Association of Independent Crop Consultants member explained fertiliser prices had risen 20-25% and agchem costs 8-10% since last season. "That means there are bigger savings than ever to be made. In the last few years we have seen enormous attention paid to fixed costs. It is time we looked more closely at variable costs again."

That does not mean adopting a detailed blueprint, he stressed. "I suspect those days have been and gone." A simple plan allows for seasonal changes, but highlights work peaks and troughs and permits more accurate input cost predictions, he maintained.

"They will know when and how much input they are likely to use. They may not want to buy it all up front, but they can buy some to offset supply difficulties."

&#8226 Eight AICC consultants are assessing the value of detailed blueprints. "Blueprints featured heavily in the 1970s. We are looking to see if they could be effective again given the more reliable research data and proven reliability of more modern chemicals," said Mr Bide.

But he predicted that the variability of disease and insect strikes would limit their usefulness.