Australian Wheat Part 2


1. Improved Farming Trends
The following farming trends have become popular over the past 20 years and help produce of better quality crops, higher yields and lower farming costs.
• Improved crop rotation involves planting different crop species. Employing crop rotation, with crops like lupins and clover every second or third year, deposits nutrients back into the soil and provides a disease and pest "break". This ensures cleaner conditions for wheat crops and reduces the need for pesticides and chemicals.
• Use of nitrogenous fertilizers coupled with improved management with more soil testing and better formulations of fertilizers.
• Minimum till farming uses herbicides to control weeds pre planting rather than relying on cultivation of the soil to kill weeds. This technology has considerably aided moisture retention and soil conservation.
• Improved varieties have had an influence on increasing yields. New varieties have been produced that are higher yielding, as well as being resistant to disease, meaning higher production and reduced input costs.

2. Wheat Productivity Trends
The area of wheat planted has increased from 9.2 million hectares in 1990/91 to 11.5 mio ha in 2001/02. During this time, production has grown from 15 mio t to 24.8 mio t. Similarly, the average yield has increased over this 10- year period, from 1.6 to 2.1 t per hectare.

These values are relatively low when compared to other wheat producing nations, however, Australian agricultural scientists and farmers have achieved outstanding results in both profitability and sustainability in a country with relatively low and variable rainfall, inherently low soil fertility and persistently declining terms of trade.

3. From Paddock to Port
Delivery to Silo
After the wheat is harvested, the grain is either stored on the farm in small silos or taken by truck to a designated grain receival centre. There are more than 900 receival sites in the Australian wheat belt. At these sites, grain is first tested for quality and graded accordingly into specific segregations. It is then stored until it is ready to be moved to port for shipping.

The first step is the grain sample, which is tested for physical attributes such as protein, screenings and moisture. After sampling, the truck is weighed (to determine how much grain the farmer is delivering) and then unloaded into a specific silo or bunker depending on the quality of the grain in the truck.

Storage and Handling
Grain storage and handling in Australia is undertaken by regional Bulk Handling Companies (BHCs). The storage and handling system in each state must be capable of accepting the annual crop quantity within the relatively short harvest period of some six to eight weeks.

On-farm storage and private commercial storage is also available and is becoming increasingly important in providing some buffer capacity in the delivery system. The types of storage facilities provided by the BHCs vary within and between states. This reflects regional differences in the types and quantities of grain produced, as well as changes in storage construction policy and technology through time. There are four basic storage types in common use - horizontal storage sheds, circular storage bins, vertical storage and temporary bunkers.

Each BHC has a network of country receival facilities connected by road and or rail transport links to several seaboard export terminals. In some cases, the network includes a number of regional or central subterminals which provide greater flexibility to the system. In particular, they enable the accumulation of larger volumes of grain for more efficient transport and provide overflow capacity to other local silos, usually having faster receival and outloading capacities.

Movement to Port
The majority of Australian receival centres are located on railway lines, so once the grain has been allocated to a customer it is usually transported by train to one of Australia's 18 port terminals to be loaded onto a vessel. The grain transported to port matches the quality contracted by the customer. Grain may be sourced from a number of receival sites and blended to meet the precise customer quality and quantity requirements.

Loading the Vessel
The grain is tested again at the vessel loading point for any traces of insects or damaged grain. Strict quality assurance testing occurs at the port so that certification can be provided to the customers while the vessel is on course for the chosen destination. Ships vary in size and can hold various amounts of grain, but the largest boat shipped from Australia to customers – a Panamax vessel – is approx. 64,000 t.

4. Australian Grades of Wheat
The six main Australian wheat grades developed by AWB are suitable for many different types of wheat based products, summarized in Tab. 30.
Tab. 30: Typical applications of Australian wheat grades
 AWB Prime Hard wheat (APH) is ideally suited for European bread, yellow alkaline noodles and wonton skins. It can be blended with lower protein wheats to produce high quality flours suitable for a wide range of baked products and noodles. APH is grown in Qld and NSW.

AWB Hard wheat (AH) flour is suitable for European pan and hearth breads, Middle Eastern-style flat breads, yellow alkaline noodles and steamed products. AH is grown in all wheat states.

AWB Premium White wheat (APW) is used to produce Middle Eastern flat and pocket breads such as baladi, tanoor, barbari, taftoon and Indian specialty breads and is also well suited for many types of Asian baked products and noodles. APW is produced across the entire Australian wheat belt.

AWB Standard White wheat (ASW) is ideal for Middle Eastern, Iranian and Indian style breads such as lavish and naan. It is also suitable for Asian steamed bread products and instant noodles. ASW is cropped in Southern NSW, South Australia and Western Australia.

AWB Soft wheat (AS) is suitable for a wide range of confectionery and baked products including sweet biscuits, cookies, pastries, cakes, steamed buns and extruded snack foods. Soft wheat is only grown in a small area of Western Australia, where the environmental factors are suitable.

AWB Durum wheat (ADR) is ideal for producing a wide range of wet and dry pasta products, as well as many types of North African and Middle Eastern products such as couscous. The production of Durum wheat is limited to Northern NSW and SA.

5. Where Australian Wheat Goes Internationally
Importing Countries for Australian Wheat
AWB exports wheat to more than 100 customers in more than 40 different countries, with major markets in the Middle East and Asian regions. AWB works hard to secure end-user demand for AWB wheat from Australia. AWB is continually broadening its services to international customers with value added products and services, such as risk management services, grain finance, chartering, technical support, professional development and wheat processing expertise.

All international markets have different needs and AWB continuously explores improvements with its customers and Australian grain growers to manage expectations and supply quality grain made to order.

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