Lachie Seears with irrigated dual-purpose canola on his family’s diversified farm business at Lucindale, South Australia.
PHOTO: Rebecca Jennings
A global supply chain perspective has motivated South Australian grower Lachie Seears to build his own gate-to-plate relationships. Lachie manages a diversified enterprise, Boonderoo Pastoral, at Lucindale in partnership with his parents, Peter and Helen, and wife, Rebecca.
The 3450-hectare property is 45 per cent cropping (cereals and pulses) and 55 per cent livestock (cross-bred sheep and Angus cattle). This year, Lachie cropped 1540ha of broad beans, feed wheat, barley and dual-purpose canola. The Seears family sells cereals to local dairies and broad beans, which thrive in the 650 millimetres per year of rainfall, are a profitable choice for export.
Lachie’s desire to fine-tune his own pulse supply chain is driven by his experiences as a GRDC-supported Nuffield Farming Scholar 2013 when he visited international pulse markets and growing regions.
“I used the scholarship to understand what happens to our pulse crops once they leave the farm gate,” Lachie explains. “Australian growers do an excellent job of growing, storing and loading grain into the truck – but once that truck goes out the farmgate, most of us don’t understand what happens to turn that commodity into a consumable product.”
He says this international insight changed his perception that processors were the ones “making all the money” at the expense of growers: “I thought processors were making the big margins, but when I visited processing plants in Australia and overseas it was evident that they have significant investments in infrastructure and carry a lot of risk to get our pulses to consumers.”
Visiting pulse markets in Egypt, Turkey and Dubai – where visual appeal sells – emphasised the importance of producing a high-quality product. He also investigated value-adding opportunities and was impressed by Canadian processors, which produce pulse flour and use second-grade pulses in pet food. Two years on from his travels, Lachie has made changes in the business. He regularly speaks to his processors about on-farm and market conditions, uses on-farm storage as a tool to preserve the integrity and marketability of broad beans, and has developed a management structure that allows him to work on the business, rather than just in it.
As the business evolved from the 600ha bought by Peter and Helen in 1977, the Seears family invested in infrastructure to support marketing opportunities. This includes 150ha of centre-pivot irrigation and on-farm storage. Four more 300-tonne silos were installed in August, increasing on-farm storage to 6000t. Silos (30 to 1200t capacity) combined with aeration, drying technology and a trade-accredited weighbridge positions Boonderoo to take advantage of domestic and export markets.
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