Being located in a relatively dry part of the country with a yearly rainfall average of 250ml, the Rankins are always striving to learn about new farming techniques to improve their soil health and biology to grow consistent crops.
About 8 years ago they started to experiment with their soil types using organic fertilisers.
“We trialled Australian Vermiculture products with an aim to improve the health of our soil and keep production costs down. Our aim is to drought proof our land and grow maximum yields with minimum financial input.”
Their soil continues to improve each year with increased humus and carbon levels, and the traditionally alkaline soil is becoming closer to neutral with each soil test.
"Our soil looks healthy and alive."
WHAT’S YOUR FIRST CHOICE OF REFRESHMENT?
It’s beer for Don – he cools down with a Carlton Draught. Carolin prefers a Gin & Tonic every now and then, or a tall glass of water.
WHERE DOES YOUR WATER COME FROM?
“The sky!” says Don. “We have a 250ml average yearly rainfall. We use rainwater for our household and if we get low we will use some pipeline (river) water which is pumped from the Murray River to Lake Cullulleraine, then by pipeline around the district.”
HOW ARE YOU MANAGING WATER FOR LIVESTOCK?
“The livestock are on pipeline water hooked up to troughs.”
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES WITH WATER?
“Managing water quality is a challenge, particularly in drought conditions,” says Carolin. “The total rainfall in the growing season (April to October) in 2018 was 105mm.”
HOW ESSENTIAL IS CLEAN WATER TO YOUR HOUSEHOLD/FAMILY?
“We rely on rain water to run our house hold as well as for our drinking water,” says Don.
“We are lucky enough to be able to tap into pipe line water for the house and garden when the tanks get dry.”
Don and Carolin’s passion for the land is clear, and their willingness to innovate is certainly paying off.
“We, like all farmers, are merely the caretakers of our land and we are endeavouring to pass on a healthy soil to our future generations so that they may prosper and grow.”