Growing cotton instead of rice pays off for farmer
GROUNDWORK in the lead-up to last summer and good prices has made cotton a viable option for Lachlan Danckert at Deniliquin in southern NSW.
Mr Danckert grew cotton last season on a recently bought block that had grown rice.
“When I purchased this property, it was the intention to set it up for cotton,” he said.
“The framework was here so we’ve effectively changed a rice farm to a cotton farm.”
Having worked in areas such as Coleambally, Mr Danckert found the technological improvements in the industry to be a major driver.
“From what I hear and what I’ve read about, the change has been phenomenal,” he said.
“It has really opened the doors up, with insect resistance and being Roundup Ready is fantastic. I’d probably go as far as saying it has really helped the viability of the crop.”
Mr Danckert said he used between 9 and 10 megalitres of irrigation water per hectare last season and was able to draw water out of the recycling ponds three times during the irrigation process.
“It all stacks up to be fairly efficient.”
The prices on offer for cotton and the ability to forward-sell also swayed Mr Danckert to switch to the crop.
“There are some fantastic
opportunities with the prices,” he said.
“I’m really keen to expand in the next couple of years. At the moment I am planning on growing from 100 hectares to 200 or 300 hectares next season.”
Picking the crop was also
initially a concern but contractors from further north were available to harvest the southern crop.
“With the expansion in the size of the crop this year it is going to be full on,” Mr Danckert said.
The months leading up to
planting were spent re-shaping channels and changing the grade of the field from a flat to a roof-top.
Mr Danckert runs an earthworks business, so was intent on preparing the irrigation system for efficient watering.
“I think anyone doing any type of irrigation cropping really needs to understand that you can work pretty hard to get water on but it’s also about designing the system to enable water to get away quickly too,” he said.
“Cotton loves to have
water on and off very quickly. It just doesn’t like to have wet feet for too long.”
Mr Danckert said improving the irrigation system to benefit cotton provided him with the confidence to plant the crop leading into summer.
NEW PROJECT: Lachlan Danckert, of Deniliquin, NSW, had an excellent first year of cotton and intends to expand the area.