Grow­ing cot­ton in­stead of rice pays off for farmer

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

PHOTO: STEPHEN SMITH

NEW PROJECT: Lach­lan Danck­ert, of De­niliquin, NSW, had an ex­cel­lent first year of cot­ton and in­tends to ex­pand the area.

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