Yesterday (Wednesday 13th March) I attended the Monsanto Cotton Grower of the Year Field Day which was held in conjunction with the MacIntyre Valley Cotton Field Day at Nigel & Vanessa Corish’s farm “Yambocully”, Goondiwindi. Matt Bradd and Karen Gilmour from ECOM’s Sydney office also travelled up for the day. Registration kicked off with a welcome from Nigel, and the group split into two as we jumped on buses and headed down the paddocks to listen to presentations. The first I attended was from Nigel & his agronomist Jim O’Connor. They gave a run down of the current crop’s development from pre-planting to now and how their management led them to receive the 2012 Grower of the Year title. At Yambocully, they have a field under a drip irrigation system and for someone with no agronomic background it was interesting to hear the benefits of using this system and how they managed this opposed to flood irrigation, which their other fields are under. Under the burning sun, I listened to how the crop has developed this year and how decisions on-farm are made to get the crop to where it is today. Questions were asked about the use of this watering system, maintenance, management and cost. I really enjoyed this talk, especially because as a Nigel is very passionate and particular about his management of the crops.

As Nigel & Jim wrapped up their talk, we jumped back on buses and took the long way around to the second station. Here we were welcomed by Mark Dawson from Monsanto and heard an update from Steve Ainsworth (CSD) along with Kristen Knight (Monsanto) about Bollgard III, Greg Constable (CSIRO) who is a leading cotton researcher based in Narrabri who discussed varieties, performance, research developments and genetics of Bollgard III. Here we also heard from Adam Kay, CEO of Cotton Australia and the work they are doing in terms of lobbying Government, promoting awareness of the cotton industry in the broader community and also promotion to the cotton industry of important issues that surround them, such as water, pesticide usage, transport of product and machinery.

We then headed back to the shed for a BBQ lunch and afternoon sessions. Jock Laurie spoke on behalf of the NFF on important issues in agriculture, the cotton industry and how they work with Cotton Australia to lobby the Government on certain issues. We then listened to Rod Fraser from NAB. He spoke on historical borrowing rates and where the market is today. What I took from this (and he expressed a number of times) was that rates are currently at historical lows, and in all previous moves off lows the major banks have started increasing rates a few months prior to the RBA lifting rates. He suggested now could be a good time to speak to your bank regarding fixation of rates.
There was a large attendance rate (I am unsure of the exact number but we filled 4 buses – a mix of coach/mini buses) and although there were quite a few industry attendees, it was great to see a large number of growers/agronomists who can take something away from the day. Well done to everyone involved in organising the day, I certainly enjoyed the day and thought it was well worth the trip up for the day.
Erin Worboys