Producers who inspire: Tabain family

Producers who inspire: Tabain family | The Cultivator Autumn 2017

Producers who inspire: Tabain family

A second-generation Riverina farming operation run by the Tabain family is leading the way in rural integration – operating a grain storage and transportation business alongside a mixed cropping property near Leeton, NSW.

Established by Jim and Sandra Tabain, the 2600ha rich loam soil property is focused on canola, barley and wheat in the winter.

Their sons Matt, Jon and Mark are all actively involved, with the brothers having vertically integrated the family farming enterprise to include grain storage and a transportation business.

The grain storage business, managed by Jon, operates silos and sheds to store up to 40,000 tonnes of grains in addition to the family’s own stock.

His brother Mark also enjoys his involvement in the family business, which grows about 200ha of rice and 180ha of maize in summer.

“The integration of the businesses is advantageous, particularly in drier years when there are little water allocations,” said Matt, who operates the farming enterprise alongside his wife Catherine, also a local primary school teacher, with their two children Thomas, 5, and Madelin, 3.

“It’s really rewarding to work with my family – my kids love the farm and enjoy helping out every opportunity they get,” he said.

“Thomas especially loves harvest, where he will happily spend his days with me on the header.”

With the installation of centre-pivots to almost 700ha, the family’s roll-out of an innovative water program has improved water consumption efficiencies without comprising their profits.

Today, the Tabains’ property boasts 400ha of flood irrigation, with their investment focused on reducing costs and improving yields.

“This emphasis was driven by my father Jim, who had the foresight to construct an 800 megalitre dam on the property in the 1980s to supplement our allocated water,” said Matt.

“This allows run-off water from the entire farm, including irrigation water, to be recycled.”

Matt told The Cultivator that technological investments had “absolutely paid off already”.

“Our autosteers have significantly increased efficiencies by reducing overlapping in paddocks and reducing driver fatigue,” he said.

“Last year, we purchased a Case Patriot sprayer, providing a constant spray pattern and drift control, which ensures the correct amount of chemical is applied and potential damage from spray drift is significantly reduced.”

He said the family was also monitoring the evolution of the driverless tractor technology – “especially to reduce labour costs and increase efficiencies”.

Matt reckons that “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” – because cutting corners impacts profitability in the long-run.

Manildra Group grain buyer Peter Sloan said the Tabain family had been a consistent and high-quality supplier to Manildra’s Narrandera Flour Mill, and had also started producing specialty wheats to meet Manildra’s specifications in recent years.

The decade-long business relationship has also grown into a friendship, with Manildra’s grain-buying team often enjoying a laugh with the Tabain brothers.

“We’re lucky to have a great relationship – it’s beneficial to have suppliers in close proximity to the mills with the ability to hold stock until we require delivery,” said Peter.

Fresh in style and substance Manildra Group Director Caroline Honan (pictured above with daughter Laila, in the family kitchen) sat down with The Cultivator to talk about a history – and future – of firsts for The Healthy Baker, as the premium flour brand launches a fresh look and enhanced range.