The exceptionally rainy and cool growing season affected the profitability of agricultural producers, which had an impact on the development of the agricultural supplies trade in Finland. Our position in the Finnish agricultural supplies trade has improved in spite of the challenging business climate. Our new operating model, based on direct sales, has proved effective and we reached our sales targets.
Sweden was similarly affected by challenging weather conditions during the growing season. The dry spring on the one hand, and heavy rains later in the summer on the other hand, compromised the growth of crops and caused significant regional difficulties with the harvest. In a year characterized by challenges related to plant protection, our Gullviks unit’s expertise was in high demand.
Gullviks focuses on the retail sale of plant protection agents, nutrients, seeds, foliage nutrients and products used in forestry that are sold directly to farms. Its strong cooperation with Swedish farmers continued to grow in 2017. Fertilizer sales also saw further growth during the year.
The Baltic countries
Through our three subsidiaries, we are the local organization of Dow Agrosciences and DuPont Agro in all three Baltic countries. We also represent the products of Nisso Chemicals and Indofil Industries (Netherlands) B.V. Our plant protection customers in the Baltic countries are local retailers.
Agricultural producers in the Baltic countries had to deal with the same challenging weather conditions as their counterparts in Sweden and Finland. There were significant differences in local crop yields depending on when the threshing season began. The rainy fall made the harvest more difficult, and crop yields and quality were very poor in certain places. The rainy fall also had knock-on effects on the cultivated areas for 2018, with the sown areas for winter grains being smaller than usual.
Farmer’s Berner continued its renewal in Finland
Our customer volumes in Finland continued to grow in 2017 and we significantly increased our brand awareness among farmers. Our digital services, such as our online store and the ParasSato farming planning tool, grew in popularity.
Our selection of plant protection products also saw strong development. We launched several significant new products such as Ascra Xpro, Twist Combo and Geoxe. In the professional turf management business, we were successful in launching our new product solutions and we increased our sales across all product groups. In the professional gardening trade, we were able to make better use of our extensive sales organization, which was reflected in higher sales.
We expanded our product range to include measurement and monitoring equipment used in farming. The NutriNostica measuring device offers early detection of the shortage of manganese in fields, well before visible symptoms, while the Soil Scout system enables wireless monitoring of soil moisture and temperature. Fall 2017 saw the launch of GrainSense, an entirely new type of measurement device for analyzing the quality of grains at farms. The first deliveries of GrainSense devices to farmers were made at the beginning of 2018.
Measurement provides better data and improved outcomes in agriculture – a lab in the hands of every farmer
Berner and GrainSense delivered the world’s first handheld devices for analyzing the quality of grains in early 2018. The new innovation provides crop farmers and livestock producers with improved opportunities to manage the quality, costs and pricing of their products.
“I expect that the greatest benefits from GrainSense will come before the harvesting season. The data provided by the measurement device will help determine the optimal order of harvesting. In the past, having to collect samples, take them to a laboratory and wait for the results has taken a lot of time that could have been spent on the harvest,” says Kalle Vuori, a farmer of malting barley and bread wheat.
The GrainSense analysis device enables farmers to determine the quality of grains on the spot. The grains that are of the best quality and highest price can then be harvested first. Livestock producers who buy grains for their animals can also benefit from GrainSense. The device helps meat producers analyze the quality of the animal feed they buy for their livestock.
“Quality is important throughout the value chain. The protein content of grains has a direct impact on the weight of the animal. This measuring device also helps us optimize our storage decisions by combining lots that are of similar quality,” says pig farmer Guy Bosas.
Berner is involved in the market launch and distribution of GrainSense equipment in the role of product development and financing partner.
“In recent years, Farmer’s Berner has made significant investments in analytical equipment for agriculture and we have already launched several devices to support farmers in their work. We believe that measurement data helps farmers make the best decisions regarding their operations. Measurements also help determine the optimal timing for various activities on farms,” says Kalle Erkkola, Head of Division at Berner.