MORE than ever the world needs secure sources of food and as a relatively solitary occupation, grain producers have been less impacted than many by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As an essential service farmers are gearing up for this year's plant and will attempt to get it in the ground with the minimum of disruption.
However, no-one is immune from the upheaval and grain advocacy group GrainGrowers has released a communique on how grain growers should best manage the situation.
The major issues for the upcoming seeding period will be the availability of inputs and the restrictions surrounding the labour force due to quarantine requirements.
GrainGrowers has warned that while supply chains have by and large coped with the situation thus far there could be interruptions and that farmers needed to have alternative plans in place to manage or to assess the extent of damage if they could not get the fertilisers or pesticides they wanted.
The other big issue will be managing temporary seeding labour.
With many growers relying on temporary outside labour to help put the crop in, whether it be on the seeder or the sprayer or other duties, ensuring there is no risk to either employee or employer is critical.
GrainGrowers said farmers should look to lessen their exposure to the disease by checking whether potential employees had been overseas in the 14 days prior to taking up employment or whether they had been in contact with anyone who had.
This will be especially pertinent for those using foreign workers under a farm visa.
It also advised that people batten down the hatches in terms of who has access to the property, with no entry for non-essential visitors recommended.
GrainGrowers also said farmers needed to state the obvious with employees and tell them to stay home if they suspected they had COVID-19 rather than attempt to work in a misguided attempt to try and help get the crop in.
The other major change recommended by GrainGrowers was to cleaning regimes.
The organisation advised that growers should ramp up the cleaning program on all equipment being used to include a thorough wipe-down with disinfectant of all points of contact such as steering wheels, doors and hand rails.
In particular, the group warned to pay particular attention to stainless steel and plastic surfaces, where the virus can survive for several days.