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King Family

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Efficiency is king at River Plains

WA grain growers Rodd and Christine King keep their business grounded on efficient practices and sound advice.

The Kings run River Plains, a 5500ha broad acre farming operation at Cascade, 115km north-west of Esperance. 

The farm is in a medium rainfall zone with an annual rainfall of 400mm and is characterised by a range of soil types, from gravel sands over clay to heavy grey clays. 

The Kings produce wheat, barley, canola and faba beans for the export market – mainly South East Asia – and this year have added lentils to the mix to tap into natural nitrogen benefits.

The farm was originally bought and cleared by Rodd’s parents in 1976, who retired in 2006 and handed the reins to Rodd and Christine.

Rodd and Christine’s son, James has recently moved to Melbourne after completing a Commerce degree and their daughters Jessica and Chloe are at universities in Perth.

Well organised operations

A walk around River Plains is proof of Rodd’s farming philosophy: “If you’re going to do it, do it as efficiently as you can and on time.”

His commitment to efficient farming practices motivated their investment in an RTK GPS system eight years ago.

“This system immediately gave us the accuracy and ability to utilise variable rate technology and move into controlled traffic farming,” Rodd said.

“It has allowed us to reduce input costs such as fertiliser, gypsum and lime.”

All of the Kings’ machinery including the tractors, headers and sprayer have the latest technology and their air seeder is now equipped with section control.

Up to date modern machinery doesn’t just matter in the paddock, it’s a strategy to create an enjoyable workplace for employees to help overcome the challenge of attracting and retaining good staff.

King

Rodd and Christine employ two permanent staff and three casuals at harvest and seeding, and say one of the biggest challenges is reliable, skilled employees each season.

“Well-maintained machinery, efficient technology, a balanced work life, proper inductions – these are all conducive to a good working environment,” Christine said.

odd and Christine employ two permanent staff and three casuals at harvest and seeding, and say one of the biggest challenges is reliable, skilled employees each season.

“Well-maintained machinery, efficient technology, a balanced work life, proper inductions – these are all conducive to a good working environment,” Christine said.

Professionalism drives change

Rodd and Christine are prepared to make changes to maintain their professional approach to business.

For example, in 2006 they made the move to Rabobank because they were impressed with the professionalism of staff at their local branch and with the wider organisation.

Since then, the Kings have built personal relationships with Rabobank branch managers and staff. 

They said this isn’t only important in a small community but is essential for building trust when it comes to seeking advice and making business decisions.

“The staff know our business and are efficient, friendly and always helpful no matter what questions we ask of them,” Christine said.

Another lure for the efficiency-driven couple was Rabobank’s All In One account as a platform to manage their finances and access working capital. 

“We have found this bank account system extremely attractive in its simplicity and flexibility for our farming needs,” Rodd said.

It’s one more tool in the Kings’ toolbox, to drive their business forward.

“Our goal is to continue to improve production every year utilising everything and everyone at our disposal from machinery, technology, employees, advisors and consultants,” Rodd said.

“We are lucky to have a very supportive team that works with us, from our agronomist, to our farm consultant, accountant and of course, bank manager”. 


“These advisors help our business grow and improve by their knowledge of farming operations across a wide range of rainfall areas, which in turn can expose us to new ideas.”

Rodd and Christine said Rabobank has also been supportive of their off-farm plans, including purchasing land in Esperance and building what will eventually be their retirement home.

But for now, it’s full steam ahead at River Plains.

“We plan to keep farming for the next 10 to 15 years, so we hope that what we have already put in place and the practices that we use will continue to improve and capitalise our production and keep our business profitable,” Rodd said.