Schreurs & Sons is one of Australia’s largest celery producers whose wise use of water underpins their business success. Director of Operations, Adam Schreur said every drop is precious because it allows them to grow some of Australia’s best veggies and employ 170 people year-round.
“Water is super important. It’s the life blood of our business and has helped keep some of our team in jobs with us that span nearly thirty years,” he said.
Adam, together with his cousin Chris Schreur, run the generational family business founded by their grandparents in the 1960s. They have four properties in and around south Gippsland and are currently consolidating their holdings and moving their main operations to a 1400-acre farm bought in Tarwin eight years ago.
The availability of water in the Tarwin River was a major motivator for buying the farm and Southern Rural Water was instrumental in helping them access it.
“We approached Southern Rural Water about water supply and allocations before we bought the farm. They were extremely supportive and helped us secure several entitlements on the Tarwin,” he said.
Together with an additional lot of water secured at an auction several years ago, Schreurs is entitled to pump 1,700 megalitres from the Tarwin River annually. Schreurs grow leeks, baby spinach, rocket and pea tendrils. Right now, they are only cropping 800 acres and plan to expand to capacity in the next few years.
Adam’s desire for sustainable growth has seen them build three large on-farm storages, with a fourth in the pipeline, to harvest water in winter when river flows are high.
“It’s in our long-term interest to look after the Tarwin and keep it in good condition. Building on-farm storages allow us to increase production without drawing on the river in summer when it needs water,” he said.
Environmental stewardship is an integral part of Schreurs & Sons business and climate change is at the forefront of their decision making.
“We’ve planted windbreaks with native trees and drains with native vegetation, installed silt traps and catch and reuse dams to protect the soil, reduce nutrient run-off and reuse run-off on our crops,” he said.
Adam said buying the Tarwin property is part of their risk mitigation strategy because South Gippsland gets more rainfall compared to other regions they grow in and has secure water allocations.
“We’ve also invested in hi-tech irrigation equipment with weather stations, moisture probes and flow meters that allow us to accurately monitor water use and apply precisely the right amount of water to the crops,” he said.
Adam feels positive about the future because he thinks they’ve got the right philosophy, people, and relationship with Southern Rural Water to allow the business to continue to thrive.
“To know I can pick up the phone, whenever I like, and talk to someone who can give me guidance on compliance or help me access and manage my water is gold.
“It’s this kind of support that helps us focus on what we do best – growing great veggies and creating long-term jobs in the region,” he said.