Kilter Rural is a specialist manager, dedicated to investment in Australian real assets of farmland, water and ecosystem services. 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% more people. However, increased production must be delivered in the context of a future facing reductions in arable land and water and the waning health of supporting ecosystems.
The next 30 years will see both abrupt and directional changes impacting ecosystems, productive capacity and communities. Astute investors realise a 'business as usual' approach to utilisation of dwindling land and water resources is not a recipe for long-term returns.
Kilter Rural has been resetting the agenda for investment in Australian farmland, water and ecosystems since 2004.
- We strive for commercial excellence in everything we do
- Our investments are utterly commercial yet committed to leveraging diversity and change
- We invest in farmland landscapes that are globally competitive, yet strongly local
- We apply best available science and technology to farmland and water investment, strategically positioning to leverage population, food, asset scarcity and climate change trends.
- We deliver sound returns in the short term but plan for returns over generations
- Resilience is a key feature of our investments - sound investment is sustainable and long term
- We have an expandable model but will not expand at any cost
- Our investments are connected and engaged through soil, water, air, migrations, markets and relationships.
- Long term, sustainable relationships are fundamental to our business
- Kilter Rural bridges the country / city divide. We regard as equally important building relationships in local rural communities as we do with city institutional investors
- We do what we say but where we cannot control an outcome, we make this clear from the start
What We Do
Kilter Rural’s Future Farming Landscapes investment started in 2005, with a $175 million commitment from VicSuper to acquire farmland and water assets. Since then, Kilter Rural has acquired 38 farms between Lake Boga and Kerang in northern Victoria, totalling 9000 hectares. Almost $40 million has been spent remediating soil, installing irrigation infrastructure including more than 12,000km of sub-surface drip tape, and developing one the most technically advanced irrigation operations in the country. Since water is the most valuable input, Kilter Rural measures performance of this farmland in terms of return per megalitre of water, and has developed its cropping program accordingly.
Kilter Rural manages water assets valued at almost $200 million, making it one of the largest and most experienced water investors in Australia. In addition to the water used for its own cropping operation, Kilter Rural leases and sells water to other large irrigators in the Murray Darling Basin, which in turn generates long term, secure returns for its investors.
Of the 9000 hectares acquired, 40% is allocated to deliver specific environmental benefits, and includes revegetation, vegetation offsets, wetland protection, ecological grazing and organic cropping. This combination of intensive, high efficiency irrigated agriculture and responsible stewardship of the farmland ecology ensures that investments by Kilter Rural are genuinely long term and sustainable.
In 2013, Kilter Rural pioneered the growing of cotton in Victoria, which at the time was the most southern cotton crop in the world. Crop yields are improving annually, confirming the viability of Victoria as a future major player in the lucrative cotton industry.
The 2018-19 growing season resulted in Kilter Rural producing Australia’s first organic field crop at scale. Traditionally regarded as unsuitable for tomato cropping, the Lake Boga farmland is generating yields that are the highest in Australia, and among the best in the world. From the first tomato crop in 2011, Kilter Rural has grown to become the largest supplier to Australia’s biggest tomato processing company Kagome, which is based in Echuca in northern Victoria.
Planted initially to help with the remediation of severely depleted and saline-affected soils, these crops make Kilter Rural the largest lucerne grower in Australia, with annual volumes approaching 10,000mt. Recognised nationally for its quality and consistency, Kilter Rural lucerne is harvested with state-of-the-art steaming technology to improve yield and quality.
Kilter Rural has a strategic commitment to become one of the largest organic producers in Australia. In 2016, Kilter Rural harvested its first crop of organic wheat that was grown exclusively for Hakubaku, a leading producer of Japanese organic noodles, as part of a long-term supply relationship. Organic compost made from Melbourne green waste is applied to organically certified farmland that is being expanded to include other crops, including soy beans, fruit and vegetables.
Kilter Rural is resetting the agenda for investment in Australian farmland, water and ecosystems.
Wedgetail Food and Fibre
In 2016, Kilter Rural created Wedgetail Food and Fibre, a marketing joint venture that is responsible for identifying high value, strategically aligned markets for its produce. Wedgetail Food and Fibre works with the Kilter Rural Executive and operations teams to identify crops that can be successfully grown on its farmland, then develops a supply chain that will operate outside the commodity market environment.
Research, Innovation and Collaboration
As an innovator in the agriculture sector, Kilter Rural has long acted to build sustained landscape productivity through investing effort in building the underpinning ecological resource base.
It understands that a key indicator of landscape resilience is in the accumulation of carbon in both soil and vegetation. Soil carbon increases water and nutrient availability for plants to be productive. Building soil carbon has special focus because soils in susceptible landscapes have become heavily denuded after more than 100 years of traditional irrigation practice.
Carbon is reintroduced to production soils in a variety of ways from active incorporation of compost, turning-in stubble and root matter, to growing deep-rooted perennials (Lucerne). On native vegetation lands carbon is returned to soil through regenerating grassy shrublands and woodlands.
Kilter Rural has a long history with a range of partners and project initiatives to advance its efforts in soil carbon. This is done through:
Participating in Caring for Country and Carbon Farming Initiative projects, and
Collaborating with the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists to produce the first farm-level environmental account of natural asset condition, that uses such attributes as soil carbon.
Enlisting high quality, science-based expertise in soil health,
Working with research institutions, such as The University of Melbourne,
The principle driver for carbon is its role in sustained landscape productivity. Kilter Rural is a long-time advocate of the ecoservice markets and actively embraces where these opportunities exist and align.