Irrespective of the crops grown, most growers and agronomists are producing at least one commodity that is destined for export markets. Whether we think of corn and soybeans grown in Iowa, canola grown in Victoria, barley grown in Western Australia, potatoes grown in New Zealand or any other crop; part of the harvest will end up getting exported in some shape or form.
Another common denominator between these crops is the fact that exporters and their overseas clients require growers to submit a certain amount of documentation with their crop to access these markets and any available price increase for their crop. This documentation is necessary to show both the inputs and methods used to grow these crops, and to ensure that all export and if applicable certification requirements have been satisfied.
Canola was the first widely-exported Australian commodity to be subject to extensive documentation requirements in order to demonstrate that the crop was produced sustainably. This documentation is now required to demonstrate compliance to the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) standard for all canola exported to Europe to meet the requirements of the Renewable Energy directive of 2009, which allows it to be used for biodiesel production. The documentation required to demonstrate compliance includes cropping plans, production areas, spray diaries, soil tests, agronomist’s recommendations, field records, fertiliser applications, farm maps, etc.
Current trade disruptions between China and Australia in respect to barley, as well as new requirements by a number of other trade partners like Vietnam, dictate that similar documentation requirements are only a matter of time for commodities such as barley, wheat and chickpeas. One of the main concerns that this raises for most growers, is the prospect of an additional paperwork burden without a financial reward to compensate for it: ‘having to do more work for the same result’.
In Australia, a large percentage of growers are ISCC certified through the Australian Oilseeds Federation’s Sustainable Grain Australia Central Office which is administered by Commodity Inspection Services (CIS). In the drought affected 2020 season around 2000 growers were part of the ISCC program but, with favourable conditions and the introduction of malting barley into the program in 2021, the number of growers is expected to double.
I recently had a chat with James Saunders, National Business Manager for CIS, about the ISCC certification and audits, as around 70% of this year’s audited growers are Agworld users. James: “I would like to encourage more growers to become users of systems such as Agworld, as it greatly reduces the admin burden of certification and auditing. Growers that use a system like Agworld have a large part of the information needed for certification already available; they only have to export the reports and they’re done.”
However not everything needed for the ISCC audit is available in Agworld, with documents such as proof of ownership of land, equipment calibration and a farm waste management plan for example, being completely separate. These documents don’t tend to change from year to year and are relatively easy to gather. If these documents were stored electronically in Agworld it would be even better as growers would have all the documentation in one repository for easy access. Also in the advent of travel restriction for the auditors due to COVID that resulted in remote audits, having a single electronic repository would make the auditing task even more easier.
Documentation acquired from Agworld however does change per season, and it’s the documentation that can be exported from Agworld that tends to cost the most time to compile manually, if not done in a Farm Management System throughout the season.
And the best part for growers? Over 85% of Australian agronomists already create all their plans and recommendations in Agworld, which means they do all the heavy lifting, and record keeping becomes as quick and easy as possible for growers. No need for manual data entry and no need to spend lots of time behind your computer; simply access your agronomists’ recommendations on your iPhone or iPad and convert it into a farm record with the touch of a button.
If you are growing canola or malting barley, and would like to know more about how Agworld can help you simplify your record keeping and support the ISCC certification process, you can get in contact with me on email@example.com.