Grain growers told to show commitment to technology

A call has been made for Scottish grain growers to show they are serious about being a forward-looking industry, and that they are willing to commit to new technology and communication channels which offer real benefits to their businesses.

Growers of oilseed rape were urged to get involved. Picture: Contributed
Growers of oilseed rape were urged to get involved. Picture: Contributed

Andrew Moir, Chairman of Scottish Quality Crops (SQC), the country’s main assurance scheme for arable crops, this week urged grain and oilseed growers to give their backing to plans to set up an electronic passport system which would replace the current paper ones used when crops leave the farm.

Moir, who is also a board member of the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB) said that an 18-month pilot project had underlined a number of benefits available from such a change.

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He said that participants in the eGrain pilot study found the scheme – which essentially allowed the current paperwork to be transferred to mobile devices such as ‘phones and tablets – had the potential to enhance farm and haulier assurance, and speed up the passport process.

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Moir claimed that the system could provide huge benefits to producers when grain was leaving the farm.

“Most importantly, there would be a quick flow of information both up and down the supply chain, which we don’t have at the moment,” Moir said.

“For example, if I got information quickly that there was a quality problem with a load, such as too high nitrogen, then I could stop other loads going and being rejected. It would allow me to minimise the cost of rejected loads.”

Another participant, Black Isle farmer Brian Matheson, also supported the move.

“In our case accurate data on monthly grain movements could be useful. Instant information would be a real benefit to us. We can’t take the chance with rejection, so tend to flag up any potential issues before we send a load anyway,” said Matheson.

Moir, who said that producers had until September 16 to register their support for such a change on the AHDB website, also emphasised the possible benefits across the supply chain.

Merchant Glencore Grain said that the system allowed increased transparency in the supply chain – with live assurance checking reducing delays due to errors on passports at intake and allowing delivery performance to be closely monitored.

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While the AHDB report into the issue – which is available on their website – showed considerable benefits for the industry it also indicated that introducing such a world-leading system would not be without its challenges in the early stages.