March 19, 2015

19/03/2015: South Australian grain industry rejects viability of "revolutionary” State Government program

Industry lobby group Grain Producers South Australia has rejected claims a government program could "revolutionise" grain production in the state, saying the cost to implement it would make it unviable for growers, ABC News reports.

The State Government's New Horizons program uses deep incorporation of clay and organic matter in soil to boost fertility.

Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell this week announced results of three trial sites, saying yields increased by 50 to 100 per cent and even up to 300 per cent for some varieties.

Mr Bignell described the program as a revolution in agriculture that proved growers did not need access to genetic modification technology, which only promised yield increases of about seven per cent.

GPSA chief executive Darren Arney said the trial results were "amazing" but the cost of replicating them on a commercial scale would put most growers off.

"If you were to roll [the program] out over a million hectares you're probably talking close to Aus$1 billion of additional capital investment," Mr Arney said.

"We're talking 150 million tonnes of soil potentially having to be moved from one spot to another; that's going to be a significant cost.

"Plus you've got to find the organic matter from somewhere to put into this soil process, plus you'll have to bring some fertility into it as well."

Mr Arney supported the principles behind New Horizons but suggested the Government should provide financial support if it wanted growers to change their systems.

"The South Australian economy is riding well and truly on agriculture and grains is a significant contributor to that of over Aus$2 billion," he said.

"To bring a million hectares of extra land up to speed, if that's the number, it will take a significant amount of work and there will be plenty of jobs to go around."

Read more HERE.

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