Our Group operates an integrated crop farming process whereby we undertake deep soil tillage and no-till farming techniques for certain crops such as sunflower, corn and winter wheat. Our Group plans to convert most of the arable land to no-till farming land to improve the overall crop yield as no-till farming reduces costs and improves soil fertility. Our crop farming and production process consists of the following main stages:
Tillage is used to remove weeds, mix in soil additives like fertilisers, shape the soil into rows and prepare the surface for seeding. This process is used to prepare land for newly sowed crop and to keep a higher level of moisture in the soil layer.
We have also explored and implemented no-till farming for some of our arable land in 2013, which is a way of growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. This agricultural technique increases the amount of water that infiltrates into the soil, the soil’s retention of organic matter and its cycling of nutrients, thereby improving the soil’s biological fertility. No-till farming also reduces the use of labour, machinery and fuel as tillage is not required. Such farming technique also allows us to use the arable land continuously without having to fallow the arable land for one (1) year. As at the Latest Practicable Date, no-till farming is used in over 6,000 hectares (representing approximately 15% of our arable land). Spraying of herbicide is used instead of tillage at our no-till fields.
Sowing is dependent on the crop’s biology and the time of sowing and level of moisture in the soil highly influences yield. Some of our crops are sowed using seeds from the current crops and the rest of the seeds are purchased from local producers or sellers. Our Group’s chief agronomist will assess and check the suitability of the seeds before purchasing and sowing them. The sowing process includes preparative actions such as calibration of seeds and treating them with plant protectors. The seeds are then sown with seeder machines which scatter the seeds over our fields by broad casting method.
A key component of the plant cultivation process is the control of plant nutrition and is comprised fertilisation, application of plant protectors and performing additional land processing. Prior to this, the fertilisers and plant protectors are sent to third party laboratories for safety tests. Different fertilisers are used for different crops as recommended by our chief agronomist. Cultivators are used to till the land to prepare a proper seedbed for the crop to be planted into, incorporating fertilisers and herbicides, to mix the soil to ensure that the growing crop has enough water and nutrients to grow well during the season.
In no-till farming, crop residues are left on the surface, where the nutrients that result from their decay can leach into the soil. The accumulation of such surface residue after a few seasons of no-till farming practice will result in more moisture and nutrients retained in the soil as the lack of tilling exposes less of the soil to air and prevents erosion of soil nutrients.
The time for harvesting is also dependent on the crop’s biology and the time of harvest of our crop is planned with a focus on minimising loss due to overripe seeds fall. This process also includes the control of stubble remains in order to retain moisture levels in the soil after harvesting. Specialised harvesters are used to transport the harvest to the storage facilities after cleaning and sorting of the harvested crops.
A schedule of the cultivation processes for our main crops is set out below:
|Tillage / Spraying||Sowing||Plant cultivation||Harvesting|
|Winter wheat||August||September||September to June||July|
|Sunflower||October / May to June||April to May||April to May||September to October|
|Sorghum||October / May to June||April to May||April to May||September to October|
|Corn||October / May to June||May||May||September to October|
|Flax||October||April to May||April to May||August|