The next big advance in Australian agriculture will be the way in which family farms structure their businesses, predicts grower and Nuffield scholar John Gladigau.
Mr Gladigau, who farms at Alawoona in South Australia’s North Mallee region, will be one of the speakers at the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Farm Business Update at the Merredin Regional and Community Leisure Centre on February 13.
The event will offer growers and advisers a comprehensive overview of current and future business challenges and opportunities, with industry and business experts sharing insights on how growers can increase their profitability.
Mr Gladigau’s Nuffield scholarship focused on how family farmers could create economies of scale and greater efficiency without losing the integrity and heritage of the family farm.
This led to him forming his own ‘collaborative farm’ and the company Collaborative Farming Australia (CFA), which brings together farmers to create ‘collaborative farming ventures’ (CFVs).
Mr Gladigau said CFVs combined the assets, infrastructure and skills of two or more farming businesses, along with the addition of leased or share farmed land if required, to provide greater efficiency and profitability.
“In the past 20 to 30 years there have been significant structural changes to most of the businesses that farmers have a relationship with, including machinery dealers, fertiliser companies, grain marketers or banks,” he said.
“These changes have been designed to create efficiencies, economies of scale and a greater level of profitability, while attempting to align themselves more firmly with their ever-changing market.
“But it seems that most family farms still operate structurally much as they did 30 years ago.”
Mr Gladigau said the development of ‘optimum efficiency cells’ and a professional business structure were at the core of the CFV model.
“Optimum efficiency cells (or ‘scaleable units’) are created by matching the machinery, labour and infrastructure required to most efficiently farm a given area of land, and replicating these cells to grow the business,” he said.
“As an example, an efficiency cell in dryland farming in the South Australian Mallee region may be deemed to be 4000 hectares, which can be cropped most efficiently with a 42 foot seeder, 300 horsepower tractor, 42 foot harvester, 120 foot sprayer, a Mother Bin, a four-by-four ute and two labour units.”
Mr Gladigau said that in addition to increased profitability achieved through efficiency cells, other advantages of collaborative farming models included the ability to access the latest technology; flexibility of involvement; geographical spread of risk; and high level of professionalism and accountability.
For more information about the GRDC Farm Business Update in Merredin and to register online visit www.orm.com.au or contact ORM on 03 54416176 or email email@example.com.
The event was initiated by the GRDC after its Kwinana East Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) identified improved business skills, better knowledge of profit drivers and risk management as big priorities for growers in the eastern grainbelt.
However, the Farm Business Update will be relevant to growers and consultants from all WA cropping regions.
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Photo caption: ‘Collaborative farming ventures’ will be the focus of John Gladigau’s talk at the GRDC Farm Business Update in Merredin.
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