Farmers Turn to Technology to Combat Input Prices

NEW ZEALAND - Using global positioning systems (GPS) and other precision agricultural equipment has helped some farmers combat high input costs from 2008, says Rabobank Analyst Adam Tomlinson.
calendar icon 9 January 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

More relief may be on the way. Prices farmers pay for fertiliser, agrochemicals and fuel are expected to be considerably lower in 2009, according to a Rabobank report.

The new Rabobank Global Focus report: Farm inputs – the key to productivity, discusses the high farmer input prices, changing farming techniques and input price outlook for 2009/2010.

Changing farming techniques

During 2008, the sharp rise in input costs internationally gave farmers an extra push to improve productivity and efficiency with new farming techniques.

In Australia, farmers are increasing their efficiency in farm input cost management through the use of modern technologies such as zero tillage cropping, integrated pest management and biotechnology, liquid fertilisers and precision farming.

“Precision agricultural equipment, such as global positioning systems and variable rate application devices, are assisting Australian farmers with farm input application and improving farm productivity,” says Rabobank Analyst Adam Tomlinson.

In New Zealand, farmers have also had to focus on cost efficiency and sustainability due to rapidly-rising farm input prices and environmental restrictions, the report says.

“As a result, New Zealand farmers are increasing paddock testing for soil nutrients and better managing their livestock manure and reducing wastage of nutrient resources,” Tomlinson says.

Report outlook

It remains unlikely that there will be a return of the 2008 commodity price highs in the near future. International prices for manufactured farm inputs are expected to be significantly lower in 2009 than in 2008 with the fallout of the global financial crisis impacting all commodity markets.

“Although there will be a need for major importing countries of farm inputs to overcome high-priced inventories from earlier purchases and manage exchange rate volatility, it is expected that prices farmers pay for fertiliser, agrochemicals and fuel will be considerably lower in 2009,” the Rabobank report concludes.

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