Placing great store on storage

If graingrower, "opportunistic seller and micro-marketer" Mark Schilling could impart one gem of knowledge to other farmers it would be to invest in on-farm storage.

"It gives you control, lets you retain ownership of your stock and allows identity preservation," he says.

Mr Schilling, from Kadina, South Australia, is behind two value-added companies - Northern Yorke Processing and Northern Yorke International. The operations have 30,000 tonnes of combined storage.

Northern Yorke Processing is owned by five shareholders and adds value by cleaning and packing grain, while performing all the logistical operations necessary to market grains overseas.

Mr Schilling says the grains - peas, lentils and chickpeas - get shipped as a dressed product. "The customer is receiving a cleaner, more saleable product."

Northern Yorke International has three shareholders and markets its own grain. "We initially started the Northern Yorke group to be an export company. We identified a gap in the market between what the big operators were supplying and what some smaller customers wanted. So we supply smaller amounts with just-in-time freight." The company sells to South Africa, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Mr Schilling describes those behind the group as opportunistic sellers and micro-marketers. "We put it all in our own storage and can sell when we need to. We can also sell small quantities of products that customers want; business the big boys find uneconomical to do."

He and his neighbour and business partner Kyle Holman have also transformed their own farms into what they refer to as a "fuzzy corporate".

"We grow wheat, barley, peas, lentils and chickpeas. Our idea is to corporatise the farms to get efficiency. Nothing has been legally formed, we"re sort of running it as a trial.

"And working together allows us to share labour, machinery and stress," he quips.