Cotton Grower of the Year reveals all

20 February, 2006

More than 100 cotton growers and industry representatives have participated in a farm walk outlining the strategies behind the success of 2005 Bayer CropScience Cotton Grower of the Year winners, Neek and Robyn Morawitz at Argoon, near Comet in Central Queensland.

__Speaking on the weekly CSD Web on Wednesday video, the convening judge of the Award, Geoff Macintyre, said the family operated enterprise was particularly renowned for its water use efficiency, riparian management and the achievement of high cotton yields.

“There was really a high level of achievement across all criteria ranging from the resource management, (soil, water, vegetation) through to crop management, (agronomy, insects, diseases) the management of the business, management of staff, marketing systems, profitability, and the community role (the impact that the growers have within industry and within the community).

“But two key issues stood out. The whole water/irrigation system management; the level of monitoring, measurement and ultimately the water use efficiency that is derived from that in the way that the whole system is integrated and managed so well.

“The other part is their riparian zone management; their wetlands, not just in terms of the way that it is protected and actively managed, but also weeds management and vegetation re-growth, and its positive impact on farm management and production,” Geoff Macintyre said.

The Morawtiz enterprise comprises two properties at the junction of the Comet and Nogoa Rivers: ‘Argoon’ (655ha flood irrigated), and ‘Stewart Park’ (550ha; half flood-irrigated and half centre pivots. The Argoon plant this year includes 450ha of irrigated Bollgard II® cotton, using 20 per cent corn as a cereal refuge option.

“The irrigation system is totally reticulated. Every bit of tail water off the property comes back to a central point at a sump in the centre of the farm. From that sump it can be redistributed either into longer term storage or put back out on fields. The farm is operated both on allocated water and flood harvesting licences, so our water security is good

“Over the years we have enjoyed being involved in lots of trial work including involvement with GM technology, when INGARD® first came in. We were involved in looking at trap crop options with the pigeon pea, and studies on pupae and that sort of thing. We have tried cotton grown into standing wheat stubble for water infiltration and keeping herbicide residues in field, and also twin-row planting.

“This year we have a Roundup Ready Flex® trial on the farm, looking at that latest technology with Monsanto. It’s certainly a sound product, there is no doubt about that. The added application window that Flex gives should be a real benefit to farmers.

“We have also had experience this year in changing some syphon sizes, which has prompted us to look further at that. We will be putting some larger siphons on some more fields next year and concentrating on getting water on and off fields quicker, that’s where I really see some major improvements to be made,” Neek Morawitz said.

_Further Information: _"John Marshall orDavid Kelly":showstaff.asp?staff=4