26 July, 2017
Narrabri cotton grower, Mark Cathcart has been awarded the AgriRisk High Achiever of the Year at the 2017 Australian Cotton Industry Awards.
A cotton grower for over thirty years, Mark Cathcart currently manages the 260 hectares of irrigated cotton on Cotton Seed Distributors’ research and seed increase facility, CSD Farms, near Narrabri in northern NSW.
An amalgamation of three farms totalling 1,130 hectares, CSD Farms is a unique agribusiness with three principal functions – early generation seed increase, cotton crop research and technology demonstration. Mark and his team take the breeder seed provided by CSIRO and over successive years screen and produce volumes of potential varieties which can then be grown out by commercial seed growing partners.
“It’s basically like a research farm, but a significant part of our work is seed increase for our company,” said Mark.
“When we’re growing cotton for seed, we’re not always looking for the highest yield; we’re looking for evenness of finish so that we can have a more mature, timely crop. We’re trying to get the seed picked before we’re influenced by any sort of weather, to maximise the quality of the seed – so, seed production is our primary role and our lint is our secondary commodity.”
Mark and his team are also responsible for conducting a vast array of trials including screening of new varieties for diseases such as verticillium, crop spacing and row configuration for dryland and irrigated systems, irrigation technologies, crop nutrition, seed treatments as well as new biotechnologies.
“In any one year we could have between 20 and 30 different seed, product or technology trials going,” Mark explained.
“The farm is a really important link in the chain for the whole cotton industry because we’ll get a first look at a variety at a commercial scale, we evaluate it, trial it and see if it’s got a fit for our industry.”
Cotton Seed Distributors Managing Director, Peter Graham, congratulated Mark on his award.
“The AgriRisk High Achiever of the Year award is a credit to Mark’s commitment and contribution to the industry, and a fantastic recognition of his leadership in demonstrating a high level of achievement, excellence and innovation.”
The Australian Cotton Industry Awards were held as part of the 2017 Cotton Collective, at Griffith, NSW. A celebration of excellence, innovation and leadership in the Australian cotton industry, the awards recognise growers, researchers, young achievers and service to industry.
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