For decades agribusiness giant Elders has provided advice to Australian farmers to help them increase their outputs.
But, it is now enhancing the service offered by its network of more than 150 sales agronomists and animal production advisers.
It is establishing a team of fee-for-service, independent specialists under the banner Thomas Elder Consulting to help progressive farmers maximise their profits and encourage the adoption of new technology.
TEC is being headed up by Graham Page, who was previously Elders’ southern zone technical manager.
He says the traditional service will not change but the company was born to address a “huge gap” in ag extension.
“Our research told us $150 million to $200m is what producers invest in consultants today across Australia each year and they are looking for specialty services to help them from a sustainability point of view – not just environmental but also economic and social – to support their business,” Mr Page said.
“We believe it is the right time for us to have this level of experts and making sure they are covering off on ag tech, precision ag and the farming risk management side.”
In September, respected SA livestock identity Bruce Creek joined the TEC team and Mr Page says they are gradually recruiting more experienced consultants.
“We aren’t rushing this,” Mr Page said.
“We want to make sure we have the right people and make sure we have a good geographical spread.”
There is no set fee structure and consultants are able to charge based on the job.
Mr Page says TEC already has a few small projects under way, working with individual clients and farming systems groups.
TEC has also held workshops with several universities, including the University of Adelaide, seeing its role as bringing farmers and researchers closer together.
This will include extending the research coming out of the Thomas Elder Institute.
Mr Page says TEC is also important in Elders remaining “relevant” and an employer of choice.
“There are lot of people coming out of university looking for a range of different careers from research to pure play agronomy or consultancy,” he said.
“We can now provide those career opportunities where historically we probably only had a few different job offers available.”
He stresses TEC is an independent division of Elders with no obligation for TEC clients to buy products or sell livestock through the company.
“It is important we are recognised as adding value and known to be thought leaders when it comes to knowing where the future lies in agriculture – that will be the measure of our success,” Mr Page said.
Creek joins Elders consultancy arm
THOMAS Elder Consulting’s vision of sharing knowledge and helping farmers adopt the latest technology excites agribusiness consultant Bruce Creek.
“There are a lot of production systems we use in agriculture today that have not changed greatly in generations,” he said.
“However agricultural research and development is delivering a wealth of valuable knowledge.
“Utilising this research and technology will be vitally important as the requirement for more protein and carbohydrate in the world increases.”
Mr Creek, who recently joined TEC, has extensive experience managing both stud and commercial beef and sheep properties in SA and is also the SA Beef Blueprint chairman.
He says TEC offers the opportunity for him to work in a range of areas including livestock production, business growth, land acquisition and technology advancement.
He is undertaking regular overseas advisory work, including in Kazakhstan, where he previously spent 4.5 years developing a 4000-head breeder Angus herd from Australian cattle along with building a supply chain to a 8000-head feedlot.
“It has been pleasing to return back to Kazakhstan and continue to help them expand their growing beef industry,” he said.
“My work is around business management and the bonus is the range of other specialists I am able to access to gain the best outcomes.”
The prospect of drawing on specialised TEC resources Australia wide will provide a wealth of knowledge and experience across a range of sectors.
“It is definitely an exciting time to be involved in agriculture,” Mr Creek said.