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Network News
New faces in the Cash Crop Team
During the past months, the agri benchmark Cash Crop Team in Braunschweig was happy to welcome three new colleagues.
Giles Blatchford brings significant experience as a consultant in agronomy, agri-business and food production. Before joining the Cash Crop Team in Braunschweig, he worked for AHDB, the agri benchmark partner organization in the United Kingdom. In Braunschweig, Giles will focus on our potato network and coordinate our efforts to strengthen and develop the agri benchmark Network.
Giles Blatchford
After finishing his master thesis on “A Gravity Model of Virtual Water Trade in the Americas and Europe” at the University of Göttingen, Daniel Tudela Staub joined agri benchmark in October. He has previously worked on projects related to rural development and sustainable agriculture in Chile, Bolivia, and Brazil. Daniel´s PhD will focus on greenhouse gas mitigation potentials in crop production.
Daniel Tudela Staub
Marcel Dehler is a PhD candidate with an agri benchmark scholarship and he will continue to work on the design and evaluation of new cropping strategies in Germany / Western Europe, a topic in which he already has generated some important results for agri benchmark (see In the Media). He also already worked for agri benchmark as an undergraduate assistant.
Marcel Dehler

New country in the Cash Crop network
TRAGSATEC, a state-owned company in Spain that provides engineering, consulting and technical assistance in different areas of agriculture, joined the agri benchmark Network Cash Crop in November 2017.
TRAGSATEC has been a partner with the beef & sheep network for many years. Now, supported by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, they aim to establish a national network of typical farms that represents the diversity of natural and economic framework conditions.
training agri benchmark
TRAGSATEc economists, Fernando Merelo, Carlos García, Jesús Llorente and Almudena Gómez, shown with Tanja Möllmann (second from left) and Daniel Tudela Staub (fifth from left), took part in the first Spanish agri benchmark Cash Crop training in Madrid, November 2017.

New network partners in Italy
Enrica Gentile and Nicola Minerva, scientists at Areté, Bologna, Italy, will strengthen the Cash Crop network by collecting data on Italian typical farms and sharing their analysis. The network is looking forward to welcoming Enrica and Nicola at the next Cash Crop Conference.
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Farewell Richard
Richard (Dick) Schoney passed away suddenly on August 31, 2017 in Saskatoon, Canada. Richard was one of the co-founders of agri benchmark back in 2004. He always was a very active and engaged partner, representing Canadian farmers and agriculture in the network. Richard impressed us with his generous personality as well with his broad knowledge of agriculture. We´ve lost a great partner and friend.
richard schoney
In memoriam Richard Schoney

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Key facts agri benchmark Cash Crop

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February 2018
Dear Friends and Partners,
Yelto Zimmer A new year – but one that marks an improved understanding of well-known challenges in global crop production.
On behalf of World Bank, we analyzed the economics of Russian crop production (related information follows).
We also share with you new findings that we presented to stakeholders in the European potato industry, as well as in the global oil palm industry.
By intensifying our collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, we will be able to provide more and better new insights into one of the biggest agricultural markets globally.
Please enjoy reading – and let us know any concerns or questions you may have.
Yelto Zimmer
Coordinator of agri benchmark Cash Crop Network
agri benchmark to highlight challenges in palm oil production economics
Yelto Zimmer, coordinator of the Cash Crop network, was invited by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board to present at their bi-annual international conference on November 15th, 2017 in Kuala Lumpur. In his speech, he highlighted that very low labor productivity in palm compared with other oilseeds is a challenge; however, the country’s overall advantage in cost of production still leaves room to maneuver.
What is remarkable as well is the very high land cost in Malaysian palm oil, which constitutes a strategic buffer should overall cost increase due to a shortage in labor supply, leading to further massive increases in labor cost. oil palm fruit
»  Cost competitiveness of oilseeds production in major exporting countries
presentation, pdf-document, 2,4 MB

European potato production - agri benchmark explains drivers for differences
Giles Blatchford, member of the Cash Crop team, gave a presentation at the British Potato Event 2017 in Harrogate, November 22nd. One of his key findings: Seeding strategies are very different within the EU. Because seed cost is, by far, the single biggest item in direct cost, this leads to significant advantages for producers who are able to save on seed cost.
seed potatoes British producers are very keen to understand the actual cost-competitiveness of their competitors with a special focus on Russia and Ukraine, looking also for different scenarios depending on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
The main take-home messages were that indeed Russia and Ukraine are cost leaders when it comes to wheat production and that there is still potential for yield increases in these countries. Moreover, the discussion showed that UK rapeseed yields are relatively lower than its European competitors but with similar costs per ton of output.
» British Potato 2017
Presentation Giles Blatchford, British Potato Event 2017, pdf, 2027 KB

Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and agri benchmark to intensify collaboration
On July 11th 2017, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the Thünen Institute signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Braunschweig to strengthen their ties. One key area in which collaboration will be intensified is the project agri benchmark.
Mr. Xu Ming, Director for Bilateral Partnership of CAAS, and Dr. Yelto Zimmer, coordinator of agri benchmark, jointly highlighted the fact that more detailed understanding of farming systems and their economics is vital for the development of the Chinese agriculture. logo caas
The further integration of Chinese agricultural economists in the network will be beneficial for Chinese experts as well as for other international partners in agri benchmark. As one milestone in developing this partnership, the Cash Crop Conference 2018 will take place in Beijing, China.

World Bank report on Russian agri-food sector competitiveness and investment published
Despite massive advances in agricultural output, Russia continues to lag behind many comprable countries in measures of crop and livestock productivity. A World Bank report has aimed to provide a vehicle for dialogue with government on agri-food sector collaboration to address this situation.
cover world bank report As external contributors, Yelto Zimmer and Claus Deblitz, from the agri benchmark center in Braunschweig, and Dmitry Rylko and Daniil Kothko, from the Russian agri benchmark partner IKAR, analyzed productivity and competitiveness at the farm level.
Based on agri benchmark data, the authors identified strengths and weaknesses of Russian pork and grain (soybeans and corn) farms.
The complete report is free for download:
» Russia: Policies for agri-food sector competitiveness and investment
(pdf, 4.232 KB, in English)
(pdf, 4.232 KB, in Russian)

Herbicide resistance – We figure out how growers adjust and what it means to cost of production
As part of the recently issued agri benchmark Cash Crop brochure, we published the results of a series of case studies on adjustment options regardinso herbicide resistance. These case studies were initiated by agri benchmark and carried out by our US-partner Kelvin Leibold from Iowa State University. Looking at the figures shows that varying the chemical treatment changes cost of production only moderately. But if additional tillage is used, the cost soars – and not only at the farm-level. Adding more tillage jeopardizes the climate targets at which societies aim.
» Herbicide resistance – We figure out how growers adjust and what it means to cost of production
Article in "understanding agriculture worldwide", brochure agri benchmark (excerpt), 2017, pdf, 494 KB
cover brochure If you are interested to receive a copy of the agri benchmark Cash Crop brochure "understanding agriculture worldwide"
please contact
The brochure introduces you to the concept, key features, and most importantly, the value agri benchmark offers to prospective partners and clients.

agri benchmark in the media
Diversified crop rotation systems possibly may be a solution to new challenges farmers face, such as herbicide resistance and legal restrictions on the use of chemicals. But the question is, what do those alternatives look like and – most importantly – what do they do to growers’ bottom lines?
Thomas de Witte and Marcel Dehler took a closer look at alternative crop rotation systems. Their analysis is based on two typical farms in Germany (Südostholstein, Saalekreis):
» Die Such nach Plan B.
in: DLG Mitteilungen 9/2017, S. 15 - 21, (article in German)
Results of the agri benchmark Cash Crop Conference were also noticed attentively in Lithuania; thanks go to our agri benchmark partner there, Nele Jurkenaite:
You can read the article online:
» Žemės ūkio ekonomistai aptarė augalininkystės aktualijas pasaulinėje rinkoje?
in: in Mokslo Lietuva, N. 17 (594), p 8.(article in Lithuanian)
The Canadian Journal Canola Digest introduced the new established Canadian agri benchmark Network and published an article on the competitiveness of Canadian farms based on agri benchmark data and analyses. Our Canadian agri benchmark colleague and partner Joerg Zimmermann is the author.
You can read the article online:
» Are Canadian canola growers the most profitable?
in: Canola Digest, 07 Nov., 2017, pp. 42 – 44
AgWeb summarized an analysis by Elizabeth Lunik, Thuenen-Institute, Germany, and Xiangdong Hu, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China, on Chinese grain production:
You can read the article online:
» China Shifts Corn Acres To Other Livestock Feedstuffs
in: AgWeb, September 27, 2017
An extended version of this analysis appears on our website:
» Farmers in northeast China look for profitable alternatives to corn
(pdf, 3.8 MB)
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