International Perspective: The Effects of Russia’s Drought
As you may have heard, Russia suffered a very poor wheat harvest this year due to prolonged droughts in most of its agricultural areas. Eleven of the drought stricken areas saw more than half their sown land destroyed and it affected more than 9million Ha (22m ac) of land overall. There were also the images on the world news showing the fires and smog-ridden areas of highly populated places such as Moscow. Since then, Russian wheat exports have been banned and this has had the effect of increasing the wheat price throughout the rest of the world, due to the fact that Russia is the third largest exporter of wheat.
Last week I was in Moscow attending the Agrosalon exhibition. I had the chance to catch up with our distributor there and find out what has happened since the harvest. I was told that the dry weather has continued and therefore, many farmers have not planted a winter crop as usual. Potatoes have also been harvested and even under irrigation, yields have been half of normal yields (~40t/ha, or ~16t/ac, is normal). They tell me that this year has been very bad for the farmers and for the suppliers of all equipment, including GPS. But they also tell me that more and more farmers are now familiar with the benefits precision farming can bring them in terms of efficiencies and savings, which in recent times, has become all the more important. As for the exhibition itself, it was an improvement on the first one I attended two years ago. Nearly all the ‘big’ players were there, as well as the domestic companies. Attendance seemed to be up which was a surprise as the other large Russian trade show was being held the same week. Precision farming was also featured on almost all OEM stands.
To summarize, it is going to be a turbulent time ahead for farmers in Russia. If weather and yields behave next year then perhaps things can start to get back to normal, but if they suffer a third year of drought and poor yields then it could really test the resolve of many farmers and manufacturers.