Forbes Cotton Field Day
On Wednesday the 16th of March Sam, Andrew, Heather and I went with Mrs Baker to the Forbes Cotton Field Day.
This was a fantastic way to learn more about cotton farming. The Grenfell district doesn’t grow cotton and so our knowledge on how to grow cotton was very limited and we felt a bit daunted by having to research cotton as our enterprise for the Archibull project. Mrs Baker researched where the closest cotton farms were and she rang Cameron Corke who is a cotton agronomist at Forbes and is a past student from our school. We were very fortunate to be invited to attend the Bollgard 3 Cotton Field Day at Jemalong, west of Forbes.
Sandra Williams from CSIRO presented a very informative outline of integrated pest management. We learnt about how through using genetically modified cotton varieties like Bollard 2, as well as counting the beneficial insects compared to the harmful ones, the cotton farmers have significantly reduced the amount of pesticide chemicals which are used.
Anna Dawson from Auscott then outlined how cotton crops are managed from harvest to processing using grower bags which have all of the bales details from paddock details to ginning order preferences. She also explained the ginning process of how the seed is separated from the lint and what the different parts are used for. In addition Anna explained to the cotton farmers the different ways which they could control the quality and quantity of lint which their cotton crops produce. This included controlling pests and diseases, timing of irrigation cut out and harvest conditions which are ideal.
Then Luke Sampson from Monsanto spoke about the benefits of using genetically modified cotton, especially for reducing impacts of pests like heliothis and he also outlined comparisons of cotton prices and incomes compared to other traditional crops grown in the district. It was surprising to learn that the water requirements are similar to growing maize and yet the perceived income from cotton is higher. At the end of the field day Mr Sampson gave our class free Bollgard cotton caps which everyone was very excited to receive.
Local growers then outlined their personal experience of growing cotton in the current season. It was interesting to hear the challenges they had and how they worked with their agronomists and were now pleased with where their crops were at for the growing season. They spoke very positively about the financial benefits of growing cotton and were looking forward to growing cotton in the future.
Mary Ewing then explained irrigation scheduling and water budgeting in the Lachlan Catchment. This was very technical for us, but Mrs Baker understood this and said that we would learn about the finer details of irrigation in year 12.
Cotton is an amazing crop and we learnt a great deal from attending the cotton field day. It really put us on the right track for our research. Thank you to Cameron Corke and all of the sponsors for the opportunity. The level of agronomy for cotton was remarkable and we walked away from the day feeling very positive and inspired.
Written by Marie