Friday, 07 August 2020 14:00

2020 harvest yields up

Written by  Sudesh Kissun

Final harvest data for wheat, barley and oats (milling/malting and feed) in 2020 show yields were up 17% overall across the six crops.

The July AIMI (Arable Industry Marketing Initiative) Survey report shows these results were from a reduced number of hectares planted (down 6%), with the net result being a 10% increase in total tonnage compared to last season. It’s worth noting that the 2019’s results were below average.

Federated Farmers vice-chairperson grains, Brian Leadley says the final 2020 figures show strong yields and even a new world record. 

“While the 17.398 tonnes/hectare of Kerrin wheat harvested on Eric Watson’s Ashburton farm is testament to great management, it’s also a reflection of a pretty good growing season."

The yield rises recorded in the AIMI survey compared to 2019 were: wheat up an estimated 26%, feed barley up 12%, milling wheat up 11%, malting barley up 1%, milling oats up 5% and feed oats up 6%.

Weather conditions for autumn/winter sowing and establishment have been judged by survey respondents as being very good in most regions. Sowings and intentions are similar to last season, with the exception of malting barley (down 10%), milling oats (up 32%) and feed oats (down 14%) - although less than half of these crops had been actually sown as at 1 July.

Over the two-year period (2019 harvest to predicted 2021 harvest), the harvest area for feed barley and feed wheat is predicted to decrease by 14% and 6% respectively. Conversely, the harvest area for milling wheat is predicted to increase by 26% and for malting barley by 14%.

"While the prediction for total planting area is stable, we’re seeing a bit of a shift by growers to milling wheat rather than feed wheat varieties," Leadley said.

"Wrapped up in that is extra recognition for the quality of New Zealand wheat for domestic consumption and the work that’s been done around raising the profile of our own New Zealand product is paying dividends.

"In tandem with that is the varieties we’re growing are yielding quite well - not quite getting up to feed variety yields but they’re getting quite close. So if growers swing to those, they’ve got choices in the market."

Growers could put their wheat into the milling market but if feed wheat demand is stronger, they have that option. The reverse is not true: feed wheat varieties are generally not suitable for milling.

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Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

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To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

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