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Farming Under Pressure – Must Get the Cows to Produce More Shit

Farming will become input driven in coming years, expert claims

PRESSURED margins are likely to drive a change to input driven farming in the coming years, an expert has claimed.

21 November 2014 | By Joel Durkin

Speaking at the Agricultural Industries Confederation Agri-business 2015 event at the East of England Showground, Suzanne Pera, farm inputs analyst at Rabobank, said increased technology and pressure on commodities were likely to lead to a shift in focus away from yield-based productivity, toward a greater focus on inputs.

And those with the best data would be most likely to profit in this new style of ‘smart agriculture’, Ms Pera said.

“Farmers’ margins are under pressure globally. If you look at 2012, or before, margins were high, which sparked a lot of education in investment and boosted production,” she said.

Productivity

“Input-driven farming is where everything has to come together. But it is not a case where one size fits all.”

Ms Pera said this approach would require analysis of soil and water, as well as seeds and fertiliser, to improve productivity.

“We are talking about algorithms and fine-tuning your inputs,” she said. “The person with better data can make more effective systems.”

The conference was also shown Rabobank analysis which suggested global grain prices were likely to see little lift in the coming year.

“The picture does not look good on the price side. Harvest was good but demand from biofuels is coming under pressure and China is not pulling as hard as we thought it would,” Ms Pera said.

Savings

Talking about the move to input-based agriculture, she discussed the ‘butterfly effect’ and how small changes in farm inputs could lead to large environmental benefits.

“If you improved feed conversion in Chinese pigs by 10 per cent it would spare 25 million tonnes of corn,” Ms Pera said.

This, she added, would lead to significant land savings.

Input driven farming

Input-driven farming looks at how inputs could be used most effectively to reduce the cost of production and make other savings.

This differs from yield-driven farming which uses inputs to increase revenue by maximising production.

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