A WORD FROM… Luke Collier
A year ago, to the month, I was writing for the same publication. Then I touched on the covid-19 pandemic and the hardships that many communities and families had endured. Although the pandemic is passing and restrictions are easing, the covid-19 hangover is still very much in full swing.
Around this time of the year, most messages talk about the readiness of farmers – what should be done or what still needs to be done. For this issue, I would like to focus on the huge cost implications that farmers now face due to the COVID-19 hangover.
If we focus on the direct inputs, fertiliser has increased in the region of about 150% to 180%, many chemicals in the region of 30% to 50%, seed about 10% and diesel – let’s not even go there. What this means, is that farmers across all sectors will need to become imaginative to make the crop perform to its best potential. The bigger farmers can absorb the extra increase in cost to a degree, but the smaller farmers are at a bit of a crossroads.
Although the crossroads that those farmers will have to cross are bumpy, there are some interesting and exciting possibilities. I had several discussions at NAMPO with various fertiliser suppliers, who have shown me that natural organics are a way to go.
Many companies are in fact looking seriously at these alternatives – not to replace the normal blends, but more to add and assist the normal blends to get the most out of the soils. These natural organics are very cheap and there are many available. I think these could be very viable options going forward, as fertiliser is farmers’ biggest cost.
It is now more important than ever to use your savvy as farmers to get through the next few years. If you do manage to get these new ideas right, then it could change the way farmers farm for generations to come. If you manage, you could be farming effectively and at a lower cost if you can incorporate your current mixtures with natural organic fertilisers, which could massively change the cost per hectare.
I think the time has come for everyone to think out of the box and use their creativity to go forward in their farming operations. The fact is, it does not look as if the cost of inputs is coming down any time soon.
Keep strong and positive. Farming is about being resilient and waking up in the morning and tackling these challenges.
Publication: September 2022