A farming revolution

Related media coverage:

Australian food companies feed investor returns - 19 May 2015 - Australian Financial Review

Australian super funds missing out on farming boom - 25 April 2015 - The Australian

Cottoning on to a new industry - 4 August 2014 - The Guardian Australia

Cotton 'game-changer' 29 July 2014 The Northern Daily Leader

Farming breakthrough: cotton grown in Victoria for first time in decades  - 20 July 2014 - The Age

Northern Vic cotton trial success - 16 July 2014 - Stock & Land 

New model of production - 16 February 2014  - Farmonline


This article appeared in the Northern Times 11 December 2013. Reproduced here with permission.

By Ken Jenkins

A quite farming revolution is gathering pace in the irrigated lakes area north-west of Kerang. Modern sustainable irrigated farming practices are being applied and a variety of crops are being tried.

Paddock layout, channels and drainage work is evident along major roads in the area, but there is much more going on adjacent to district roads less travelled.

VicSuper board members inspect one of the investment properties.

VicSuper board members inspect one of the investment properties.

A tomato crop being managed by Kilter Rural

A Tomato crop being managed by Kilter Rural.

The progressive sustainable development of 36 properties with a total land area of 9100 hectares is due to confidence in the future food production capacity of this region shown by one of Victoria's largest superannuation funds.

VicSuper is a $11.3 billion strong not-for-profit superannuation fund with over 240,000 members and over 19,000 participating employers.

VicSuper chief executive, Michael Dundon said that the investments in the Kerang region were part of the fund’s commitment to investing sustainably and responsibly, and providing members with investment options that offer varying levels of risk and expected returns. Redevelopment has occurred on 1900 hectares, involving installation of sub-surface irrigation on 1100 hectares and 800 hectares of automated gravity irrigation.

VicSuper staff at tree planting

VicSuper staff at the annual tree planting.

"Over the next two years, we plan to develop a further 1200 hectares in the Kerang lakes area," he said. Crops include maize, sorghum, tomatoes, barley and lucerne and the project is set to trial other crops. Sheep are also being raised. "Over the past few years, we have purchased properties and been trialling cropping," he said. "We are making gratifying progress and we are developing a footprint with some scale."

Maximising returns with prudent use of water is a hallmark of the project.  VicSuper has a principle of sustainability being a way of operating and investing that recognises the dependence of the overall health of the economy on the long-term availability of natural resources, a healthy environment, a productive workforce and cohesive societies.

Mr Dundon is also a director of VicSuper Ecosystem Services Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of VicSuper that facilitates investment in sustainable agriculture and new markets for ecosystem services. He said that apart from economical use of water, the project involves benefits to the waterways ecosystem with extensive revegetation and benefits from local employment. "We have a team of about 50 sub-contractors and we are using about 100 local businesses.

"Already, we have done about 120 kilometres of fencing." Mr Dundon said that property purchases had enabled a number of people to have an exit strategy for retirement and meant that at least 17 houses had been re-let to provide accommodation. Mr Dundon was speaking after an inspection of properties by VicSuper board members and meetings with Gannawarra Shire Council and the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Walsh. "We wanted to make the Minister [and local Member] aware of our latest developments. He has been a helpful supporter," he said.

VicSuper has engaged Bendigo-based Kilter Rural, Kilter Rural chief executive officer, Cullen Gunn, who accompanied VicSuper board members during their tour, said that the economic fundamentals of investing in these assets are underpinned by demand and supply of food and fibre to a growing world population. By 2050, the world will have to feed 50 per cent more people. purpose is to deliver sustainable returns through responsible investment in water, bio-diverse landscapes, agriculture, land use change and the protection of ecosystem services.

Related media coverage:

Australian food companies feed investor returns - 19 May 2015 - Australian Financial Review

Australian super funds missing out on farming boom - 25 April 2015 - The Australian

Cottoning on to a new industry - 4 August 2014 - The Guardian Australia

Cotton 'game-changer' 29 July 2014 The Northern Daily Leader

Farming breakthrough: cotton grown in Victoria for first time in decades  - 20 July 2014 - The Age

Northern Vic cotton trial success - 16 July 2014 - Stock & Land 

New model of production - 16 February 2014  - Farmonline


This article appeared in the Northern Times 11 December 2013. Reproduced here with permission.

By Ken Jenkins

A quite farming revolution is gathering pace in the irrigated lakes area north-west of Kerang. Modern sustainable irrigated farming practices are being applied and a variety of crops are being tried.

Paddock layout, channels and drainage work is evident along major roads in the area, but there is much more going on adjacent to district roads less travelled.

VicSuper board members inspect one of the investment properties.

VicSuper board members inspect one of the investment properties.

A tomato crop being managed by Kilter Rural

A Tomato crop being managed by Kilter Rural.

The progressive sustainable development of 36 properties with a total land area of 9100 hectares is due to confidence in the future food production capacity of this region shown by one of Victoria's largest superannuation funds.

VicSuper is a $11.3 billion strong not-for-profit superannuation fund with over 240,000 members and over 19,000 participating employers.

VicSuper chief executive, Michael Dundon said that the investments in the Kerang region were part of the fund’s commitment to investing sustainably and responsibly, and providing members with investment options that offer varying levels of risk and expected returns. Redevelopment has occurred on 1900 hectares, involving installation of sub-surface irrigation on 1100 hectares and 800 hectares of automated gravity irrigation.

VicSuper staff at tree planting

VicSuper staff at the annual tree planting.

"Over the next two years, we plan to develop a further 1200 hectares in the Kerang lakes area," he said. Crops include maize, sorghum, tomatoes, barley and lucerne and the project is set to trial other crops. Sheep are also being raised. "Over the past few years, we have purchased properties and been trialling cropping," he said. "We are making gratifying progress and we are developing a footprint with some scale."

Maximising returns with prudent use of water is a hallmark of the project.  VicSuper has a principle of sustainability being a way of operating and investing that recognises the dependence of the overall health of the economy on the long-term availability of natural resources, a healthy environment, a productive workforce and cohesive societies.

Mr Dundon is also a director of VicSuper Ecosystem Services Pty Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of VicSuper that facilitates investment in sustainable agriculture and new markets for ecosystem services. He said that apart from economical use of water, the project involves benefits to the waterways ecosystem with extensive revegetation and benefits from local employment. "We have a team of about 50 sub-contractors and we are using about 100 local businesses.

"Already, we have done about 120 kilometres of fencing." Mr Dundon said that property purchases had enabled a number of people to have an exit strategy for retirement and meant that at least 17 houses had been re-let to provide accommodation. Mr Dundon was speaking after an inspection of properties by VicSuper board members and meetings with Gannawarra Shire Council and the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Walsh. "We wanted to make the Minister [and local Member] aware of our latest developments. He has been a helpful supporter," he said.

VicSuper has engaged Bendigo-based Kilter Rural, Kilter Rural chief executive officer, Cullen Gunn, who accompanied VicSuper board members during their tour, said that the economic fundamentals of investing in these assets are underpinned by demand and supply of food and fibre to a growing world population. By 2050, the world will have to feed 50 per cent more people. purpose is to deliver sustainable returns through responsible investment in water, bio-diverse landscapes, agriculture, land use change and the protection of ecosystem services.