2 June 1995



FIELD-to-plate is a connection farmers will need to take greater account of in future. As market specifications tighten and demands become more specific, growers will have to focus on buyers needs .

That is the view of David Neale, Dalgety Agricultures cereal seed product manager based at Newmarket. "One of the farmers main questions these days is what are we going growing crops for. They want to be a part of a partnership with the buyer."

Mr Neale believes the market is destined to become more segmented as buyers demand grain to meet their needs more closely. Knowing what those needs are and then meeting them through appropriate use of inputs will be the challenge for growers. The principle applies from site selection, through variety choice, input use, harvesting and storage to end product marketing, he explains.

Buy-back contracts will become more common, giving buyers security of supply, he says. But few will be all-encompassing production contracts, stipulating input choice and application details.

Instead, most relationships will be a "professional partnership". It would be wrong to stipulate inputs, when individual farms and their requirements can vary so greatly, he comments.

Cropping options

"There is a maze of cropping options, which growers need to be pointed through, if they are to be able to lock into specific markets early on." Finding the information to ensure they are aware of developing market opportunities and how to service them, will be important. That is where a diversified organisation like Dalgety can help, maintains Mr Neale.

"With our range of activities, including seed production, end product marketing, trading and food processing, we have a good idea of how things are developing." That is relayed to fieldsmen who can call up data and gross margin scenarios on lap-top computers.

Having established the market opportunities, growers then need to consider site selection and variety choice, says Mr Neale. "If you are producing for an ever more discerning end market, with increasing specifications, you have to start with the right inputs and that means disease free, quality controlled seed."

Indeed the effort should start even earlier, he argues. "Youve got to make sure you are growing the crop on the right land. To make sure that is the case we offer full soil testing to ensure the right land is being used."

At Cereals 95, Dalgety will show how it can help farmers meet the "Field to Plate" challenge. Demonstrations will include crop types and the markets they can meet, the value of quality seed, the need for choosing inputs with care and the use of computer software to create "what if" scenarios for cropping options.