SIGNIFICANT changes to SA's grain receival and storage network have come to fruition this harvest, with new sites opening on the Eyre Peninsula and in the Mid North, while a raft of older facilities across the state have been mothballed.
The first loads of grain were received into the new T-Ports sites at Lock and Lucky Bay in October, while the new ADM site at Port Pirie is also operational.
Viterra has closed 16 sites across the state, citing sustainability and efficiency as the motives behind the move, leaving 65 in operation in SA this season.
The company has made major investments at its Gladstone site, with a new classification centre, automatic grain probes, fully-automated weighbridge and resealed sheds part of a $4-million upgrade.
Operations manager Michael Hill said Viterra continued to invest about $40m into its supply chain each year, with barley dynamic binning a new feature for this year's harvest.
"It follows feedback from growers and the success of wheat dynamic binning last harvest which delivered about $6 million in value to growers," Mr Hill said.
The site closures - at Minnipa, Kyancutta, Brinkworth, Paskeville, Millicent, Cungena, Waddikee, Kielpa, Wharminda, Orroroo, Redhill, Robertstown, Long Plains, Stockwell, Wunkar and Alawoona - have not had an impact on the company's receival figures to-date, with 425,000 tonnes of grain delivered into its system on November 3, compared to 258,000t at the same time last year.
Mr Hill said despite seasonal conditions, the quality of early grain deliveries had been "relatively good".
"Feedback from some growers is that the below-average rainfall, as well as frosts in some regions, has impacted potential yields," he said.
"However, in other earlier harvesting areas, growers are indicating that yields are better than they were anticipating and might be slightly up compared to last year."
ADM expects 35,000 tonnes to 45,000t of grain to be received at its Port Pirie facility this season, with ADM national accumulation group manager Damian Bradford saying growers could expect to benefit from freight savings and increased market competition.
"This year we probably expect grain will flow back into the east coast again to supply the shortfall from the east coast drought," he said.
"From that point of view, at a storage and handling level, there's a competition element, but in a more analogue-type year, when we'll see exports go back to a more traditional grain flow structure, the benefits the growers should see is that we're able to export internationally out of Port Pirie."
The new T-Ports bunker storage site at Lock is expected to fill close to its 140,000t capacity.
Similar tonnages are expected at the Lucky Bay bunker site, which can store 360,000t, bringing T-Ports' total capacity on the EP to 500,000t, with 24,000t of silo storage still under construction at its Lucky Bay port.
The state's grain network is expected to evolve even further in coming years, with three major developments in the planning and approval stage.
Planning negotiations with the state government are ongoing for T-Ports' proposed port at Wallaroo.
This year we probably expect grain will flow back into the east coast again to supply the shortfall from the east coast drought.
The project will feature loading facilities, 32,000 tonnes of silo storage and 250,000t of bunker storage built across two phases.
Construction is expected to begin in 2020, with the site to be operational in 2021 and have an annual grain throughput of 500,000t.
As is the case on the Eyre Peninsula, T-Ports will offer local growers an opportunity to become shareholders in the project.
In a recent update on the multi-use port at Cape Hardy, which includes an agreement with cooperative EP Co-operative Bulk Handling to develop a new grain supply chain network, Iron Road said the staged approach to the project was under "active discussion with the state government".
Plans for the 1100-hectare site include grain receivals and exports, as well as the export of mineral concentrates, a manufacturing facility and the import of products including fertiliser, cement, feed for the aquaculture industry and agricultural machinery.
The cost for stage one's construction of port and grain infrastructure is estimated at $167 million, with a financing plan and delivery model expected in December.
Grower-owned collective Free Eyre bought 140ha of land 70 kilometres north-east of Port Lincoln in June for its Port Spencer development and is seeking approval variations for its new grain-only business model after former partner Centrex Metals withdrew.
One million tonnes of bunker storage, 50,000t of silo storage and 100,000t of shedding are planned for the development, which is expected to cost between $140m and $180m.
Lock receives positive grower feedback
ONE of the growers utilising the new T-Ports bunker site at Lock is Wudinna grower Jeff Bigg, who delivered his first load into the site in late October.
The site opened for receivals this season and features 140,000 tonnes of storage across six bunkers.
Mr Bigg praised the layout and overall facilities at the Lock bunker site, saying competition was one of the major reasons he had decided to deliver to T-Ports.
He started harvesting barley in mid-October and had moved onto wheat by late October, hoping to be finished by early December.
"Yields have been average to slightly above average - barley at about 2t a hectare and wheat at 1.8t/ha - so we're doing well," Mr Bigg said.
"The quality of the barley was all F1 - the protein was too high otherwise it would have been malting.
"So far, all of the wheat has been H1 and H2 so that's been very good.
"We've had below average rainfall this year but we jagged a lucky 50 millimetres in mid to late September, which helped the wheat."
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