Winning wheat cost under 25/t


13 July 2001



Winning wheat cost under 25/t

by FWi staff

THE winner of the FARMERS WEEKLY/BASF 2001 Unit Cost Challenge grew his wheat for just 24.89 per tonne, it was revealed on Friday (13 July).

All three finalists spent less than 31/t on the variable and operational costs of growing wheat, according to results published in FARMERS WEEKLY.

But winner Mark Means, who runs 312ha (770 acres) of silt at Terrington Marsh, near Kings Lynn, Norfolk, is no stranger to competitions.

He also won last years Crops/Advanta World Class Wheat competition, with a crop of Equinox he grew for 44.03/t, including rent and fixed costs.

“Im absolutely thrilled,” he told FWi. “The prize money has added another 10 per tonne to the wheat I took off the field.”

Choosing a field that needed only a “scratch and till” to get a seedbed after potatoes and not scrimping on fungicides were the victory clinchers, he believes.

“Its also important to get the timing right, whether thats nitrogen, fungicide or growth regulators – it gives me consistent yields over the whole farm.”

All finalists achieved yields above 10t/ha and took an active role in managing their costs, said judge Simon Bennett of accountants Deloitte and Touche.

“The key characteristic of all the finalists was that they understood their businesses very well,” he said.

“This knowledge is not just restricted to how the land performs, but how new technologies can be used and a detailed understanding of costs.”

Mr Means grade one soil helped him keep fertiliser and cultivation costs down to 38.82/ha and 29.56/ha respectively.

As well as the usual soil testing, he also used N-Min testing to help gauge soil nitrogen reserves.

The easy working soils also allow him to employ minimal cultivation techniques after potato harvesting.

This helped him keep cultivation costs down at 29.56/ha, significantly lower than the other competitors.

First prize in the Unit Cost Challenge was 2,000 worth of BASFs strobilurin fungicide Landmark (epoxiconazole + kresoxim-methyl).

The aim of the challenge is to identify the farm making best use of technical, labour and machinery inputs for the lowest unit cost for winter wheat.

Overheads, such as rent, finance and advice were not taken into consideration.


















Mark Means

James
Brook

Peter
Robertson

Farm size (ha)

312

400

178

Soil type

silt

stony clay loam

mixed alluvial

Location

Kings Lynn, Norfolk

Market Rasen, Lincs

Jedburgh, Borders

Variety

Equinox

Consort

Claire

Variable costs (/ha)

Seed

25.67

48.00

51.01

Fertiliser

38.82

45.43

63.08

Herbicide

29.42

19.49

9.10

Fungicide

55.78

51.72

45.50

Insecticide

0.77

1.86

0.08

PGR

7.32

10.46

3.24

TOTAL

157.78

176.96

172.01

Operational costs
(/ha)
Cultivations

29.56

60.72

51.99

Fertilising

11.78

10.14

9.18

Spraying

20.87

16.29

17.11

Harvesting/carting

43.82

75.28

58.06

TOTAL

106.03

162.43

136.34

OVERALL
COSTS

263.81

339.39

308.35

Yield (t/ha)

10.60

11.20

10.04

Variables /t

14.88

15.80

17.13

Operational /t

10.00


14.50


13.58

Unit Cost /t

24.89


30.30


30.71

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