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Completed project

Benchmarking the macadamia industry 2019-2021 (MC18002)

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Publication date: Tuesday, December 13, 2022

What was it all about?

From 2019 to 2021, this project delivered objective farm and industry performance information to support decision-making and improve farm productivity and profitability within the Australian macadamia industry. Productivity varies significantly between farms, offering significant scope for improvement through widespread adoption of best practice.

Over the last decade, the top quartile of mature farms that participated achieved:

  • 70 per cent higher productivity than others in the sample.
  • The standard deviation in saleable kernel production per hectare averaged 50 per cent of the mean.
  • Average productivity varied by up to 21 per cent between consecutive seasons over the last decade (average 12 per cent), partially due to environmental factors such as extreme weather events.
  • The most productive farms in the sample generally maintained their higher-than-average productivity and positive gross margins regardless of seasonal conditions.

Project activities

  • Yield, quality, planting, and cost data were collected and analysed annually over four seasons.
  • Personalised farm benchmark reports were produced annually for all participating businesses, ranking their seasonal farm performance relative to others with similar characteristics such as location, farm size, tree age and use of irrigation.
  • Broader industry findings were published via annual industry benchmark reports.
  • Annual meetings of benchmarking participants were facilitated in all major growing regions to review and compare seasonal results and trends.
  • Compelling examples of high productivity and innovation were documented via six case studies and other key findings were presented at industry workshops and meetings and published in industry media.

Grower engagement with the project

A total of 264 farms representing approximately 55 per cent of national production participated in the final year of the project. In a 2022 participant survey more than 95 per cent of respondents indicated their business had directly benefitted from their involvement in the project.

  • Most survey participants indicated they used their confidential farm benchmark report to better understand how their farm compared with others (88 per cent) and to monitor and track their performance (83 per cent).
  • More than two-thirds of respondents used their report to support continuous improvement, and half indicated it had supported management decisions.
  • More than 91 per cent of respondents found benchmarking case studies either very useful or useful as a learning tool, particularly those studies focused on high-producing farms.
  • Almost 73 per cent of respondents found Benchmark Group meetings either very useful or useful, with most indicating the meetings provided opportunity to network with other growers and to discuss and compare management practices.