Creating a prosperous, sustainable and healthy Northern Australia

Grain storage extension – Far North

Grain storage extension – Far North
  • Reference # A.1.2021057
  • Timeframe 3 years
  • Project Status Current
  • Location Kununurra, Katherine, Townsville
  • Total project value $436,353.00
  • Project manager Ian Biggs
  • Research Programs 1. Building potential in Northern Australia
  • Broadacre cropping
  • Agriculture
  • Strategic policy development
  • Supply chain development

Summary

As the developing far northern cropping regions of Australia expand their grain production, so too will grain storage requirements. Arguably, the most critical component of efficient grain storage is starting with the right facility, enabling grain quality to be maintained through good management.

With growers investing in fit-for-purpose infrastructure, extension can then assist growers and industry on best practice management techniques to maintain grain quality during storage, preventing losses from mould, quality degradation and insect damage.

As such, this project will take a multi-facet, whole of industry and supply chain approach to enable best management practices for maintaining the quality of grain under storage in the far north.

An initial scoping study to identify specific requirements and challenges for grain storage in the far north will build on the knowledge and previous experience the team already has in the region. The team would then tailor extension material and develop resources specific to the region, focusing on the challenges and opportunities for storing grain in the far north.

The aim of this project is to provide all grain growers, advisers and industry organisations access to the knowledge, skills and tools to:

  • Make informed decisions to invest confidently in grain storage infrastructure
  • Manage grain quality and storage pests proficiently and cost effectively
  • Maintain and value add grain through processing, blending and segregation
  • Enable access to higher value or closer markets to reduce freight costs
  • Successfully integrate grain storage into livestock production enterprises for supplementary and drought feeding.

Expected outcomes

  1. Potential production of fodder (sorghum, hay and maize) in Western Australia’s Fitzroy catchment alone is said to enable a 25% weight gain on cattle and enable 20,000 additional head of cattle per year (Northern Australian broadacre cropping situation analysis 2020) – these figures rely on the ability to store feed and fodder successfully – maintaining quality. The same principle applies to  the Northern Territory and Queensland, where feed grains can be grown to supplement cattle enabling more head to be run and higher weight gains per head. Without the ability to maintain grain quality during extended periods of storage, none of these opportunities will be possible.
  2. Being able to store grain produced in the far north that can be used in the region for stock feed will save $150-200/t in freight costs to either; send grain south for sale or buy it from the south and freight it north for use. (Northern Australian broadacre cropping situation analysis 2020) Multiplied by the estimated production capability in northern QLD alone of 163,560t this represents a potential saving of over $28.6m per year.
  3. Enabling storage of grain for export will also enable access to potential premium markets through maintaining grain quality and aiding logistics to port for container or bulk shipment.