Bulla Burra Farms is a collaborative family farm formed in 2009 by the joining of two family farms owned by the Gladigau and Schaefer families in the Alawoona / Loxton region of South Australia. Since that time, it has expanded to be producing wheat, barley, canola, chickpeas, lupins, lentils, field peas and canola on 11,000 ha of owned, leased and share farmed land. John Gladigau is considered to be the king of collaboration and between 2016-2018 was a founding member of Farming Together’s Industry Advisory Group.
- A solid return on investment e.g., in average yield seasons, the collaborative business has returned an extra $100K in gross margin gains.
- New economies of scale, particularly with improved machine efficiency. Access to most efficient and up-to-date machinery to improve farming practices.
- Improved farm management decisions based on a corporate structure that is designed for transparency and accountability.
- Flexibility in their farm operations and personal lives – they receive a commercial wage and four weeks annual leave – promoting work/life balance and family time.
The Catalyst for Change
- Increased cost of production.
- From his traditional 2000ha ordinary farm, John started questioning the possibilities for the future: how to create efficiencies and economies of scale.
- John considered collaboration as a way to ignite the future of sharing.
- Through a Nuffield scholarship, John investigated collaborative business structures across the globe.
- Being close friends, John, Robin and their wives, decided to join farms.
- To form a company structure: an operations company that leases the land owned by the two families, (and land owned by others) and purchases/owns its equipment.
- To develop a more profitable and sustainable cropping operation that preserves the integrity and heritage of two distinct family farms.
- Lack of knowledge and understanding about different business structures and opportunities for collaboration.
- Not having effective financial records to assist with future planning and predicting.
- Ineffective communication and interested members having different priorities.
- Thinking you have to be involved in all facets of business operation.
- Find collaborators: Talk to others in the region and or in your industry to locate those who share a similar vision and value with the goal to develop a collaborative business structure together?
- Explore the possibilities: get informed and get creative. What could the future of your business look like?
- Know your strength: Be confident in your passion and area/s of strength. Focus on bringing this expertise to the arrangement to improve efficiency