This Schilling family has held land on Yorke Peninsula in South Australia since before 1925. AG Schilling & Co currently crop cereals and pulses on 2,500 hectares of owned, leased and shared farmed property. They see themselves as custodians of their family property and from early on, they’ve heard the message: “Don’t ever sell the land”.
So with the family land already marked to hand down, Mark and Merridee wanted to find other ways to fund their own retirement, ideally while supporting their neighbours and the broader industry.
“Mark can’t help himself,” Merridee says. “He is always coming up with new ideas. He has a knack of seeing ways to improve things, has a ‘can do’ attitude and just gets it done.”
One of their ventures is a plant-breeding program run with other shareholders. It has nine new varieties coming through the pipeline, all funded completely by industry, with no public money. One of those varieties is an ‘any time’ pea, which the Schillings are now growing commercially.
Another venture is their mouse-baiting business, which was launched largely as a way to do good by their neighbours.
“There were a lot of mouse issues around several years ago in this region, and the mouse bait prices were just astronomical,” Merridee says.