In 1999 the Department of Agriculture (DoA) set up a link with the New Zealand Wool Testing Authority (NZWTA) to be their accredited representatives to oversee the core sampling of Falkland Islands bales of wool. There are many benefits to local wool growers in having their wool cored locally. Mainly it opens up the opportunity to sell wool to a greater number of destinations, sell it in the international market place and gain a price for their product that is based on world market indicators, to rationalise wool freight logistics and to increase flexibility as to time of selling.
In the first year growers were cautious of this new service and only 726 bales were manually cored. Over the years interest has increased, this last season (2011/12) saw 6363 bales cored, the highest number to date.
the DoA has a set of certified bale scales for manual coring of bales in the Wool Warehouse at FIPASS, where all of the sampling now takes place. However, manual coring now only occurs in exceptional circumstances.
In 2007, due to the increasing freight rates by airto New Zealand, the Laboratorio Tecnologico del Uruguay (LATU) was approached by the DoA to see if we could grin accreditation to be their sampling officers for their IWTO laboratory and, thus, sending samples by ship instead and reducing costs. A LATU representative assessed the coring procedures already in place and accredited DoA staff to be their sampling officers in the Falkland Islands. the islands farmers were then offered the choice of using the LATU laboratory or staying with NZWTA and even with the increased air freight costs, all core samples continue to be sent to New Zealand for testing.
During the 2007/8 season, the Falkland Islands Development Corporation (FIDC), with advice from the DoA, investigated the possibility of purchasing a core/grab machine as a further aid to the core sampling operations in the islands. Eventually, a semi-automated core/grab machine was purchased from the South African Wool Bureau (WTBSA).
The Falklands Wool Cooperative (FWCo) won the tender to operate the core machine and also negotiated with Byron McKay to oversee the running of the wool warehouse on FIPASS. This includes bale receiving and stowing, operating the core and grab machine plus the double dumper and packing bales into containers for onward shipment.
With these innovative and forward looking changes, the wool warehouse operative runs a more effective and streamline operation.
the 2011/12 season saw a record of 55 farms utilising the service and a total of 6374 bales being cored using the machine, whereas in the 2012/13 season the number of farms dropped the 49 and total bales cored was 6150. However, as the number of farms using the service and number of bales cored changes every year, this is no indication of a permanent move away from coring locally.
there is also the opportunity to grab sample bales. the main purpose of grab sampling is the test the length and strength (L&S) of the staple and Position of Break (PoB) within the staple. In counties that sell wool by auction the grab sample is also used for display to let potential buyers see and feel the quality of the wool.
the information gained from the testing of the core sample is used to generate a legally binding document that enables growers to sell their product worldwide, it is known as an IWTO Pre-Sale Test Certificate. The criteria shown on the Pre-Sale Test Certificate are; mean fiber diameter, yield (Schlumberger Dry), colour, vegetable matter, gross mass, tare, net mass, total bales and bale numbers. If the bales are grab sampled, this information is also provided on the test certificate.
Late in 2013 we were fortunate enough to be able to hire Bob Morris of Avery Weigh-Tronix, UK to independently calibrate and issue certification of accuracy on both the machine and manual weighing platforms and their weighing indicators. This is the first time this very valuable and necessary independent certification service has been available to us and we are confidant that this will now be conducted on an annual basis.