Dean’s parents first established their business with Taylor’s Vineyard in the late 1970s. What started from a modest block has since grown to 260 hectares – home to eight varieties of grapes which are then supplied to a local winery. As we drove through the property recently I was amazed by the scale of the vines stretching to the horizon and the massive dams on the property.
But vineyards are not the biggest part of Taylor’s: “The contracting business is the largest of the three,” Dean explains. “We develop irrigated agriculture across Australia - from corporate farms down to small family farms.”
“And then to complement both other businesses, we run a farm supply shop to support local industries with chemicals, fertiliser, post wires and more.”
Just add water
Dean says the changing climate is a big challenge for their business given water supply is the number one ingredient to farm successfully.
“We always say ‘just add water’ but if you don't have that water available, you can't actually grow your commodity,” he says. “We're improving soil every day by adding compost and building up that microbiology, improving the carbon, monitoring our soil in new ways, whether it's with electronic monitoring and just overall protecting our assets.
“The better we can use water, the better we'll operate.”
For operations like Taylors, capital costs are absolutely necessary for growth. Dean says ANZ supports the business seasonally with funding to grow crops.
“We have our bad years when the water prices are high, so we need additional assistance – the bank supports us and it gets us through the next couple of years.”
On my trip to the Sunraysia area these are things which really stood out for me, the real drive towards and the appreciation of the value of diversification. And coupled to that, the scale and capital investment needed to fully realise that value.
Shayne Elliott is CEO of ANZ