On the 1st of May 2016, Ciaran and I travelled to Narromine; we were there to participate in a four-day learning camp run by Narromine Rotarian Mr Geoff Smith. The purpose of RYCOTT was to study all facets of the Australian Cotton Industry.

Day 1 (Sunday, the 1st of May 2016)

I arrived at the venue, which was the Narromine showground. We were settled in and shown where we would camp and given a tour.

Once everyone was unpacked and all of the parents left we were given some time to socialise and get to know each other before our first guest speakers arrived.

Our guest speakers for the night were The Narromine Aboriginal Elders with their inspirational talk focused around, “this is your life and you can do what you wish.” They started on this subject and continued, showing us some historical artefacts that included a didgeridoo, boomerangs and other interesting things. One of the elders also had a passion for leather work and taught a few of us how to do a four way plait.

After all the excitement of the first speech we then had dinner, participated in a few games, then had a bit of time to socialise and went off to bed.

Day 2 (Monday, the 2nd of May 2016)

When we woke at about 7am we were quickly fed a hot breakfast before our first speaker of the day showed up.

Our first speaker of the day was an Agronomist, Mr Bryan Prattern. His speech was focused on what was required to become an Agronomist, he then gave us a generalisation of all of the different aspects of cotton agronomy.

We then jumped onto the bus and were taken out to the first of the two farms we visited. This farm was owned by Rob Tuck. Whilst we were out at the farm Rob Tuck told us about his educational experiences and touched on why he grows cotton and the use of pigeon peas alongside the cotton crop. He lastly showed us his two cotton pickers, which were the main focus of our visit. Then Rob gave us a brief rundown on how the cotton pickers work and what they cost to run.

We then returned back to the bus and were taken out to the second property which was owned and run by Matt Whatt. Matt had one paddock of cotton left to pick, but was unable to harvest due to inclement weather. Whilst we were on Matt’s farm he explained to us how he farms cotton and the costs associated with the cotton crop. He also gave us a detailed description of how cotton defoliation is executed.

When we arrived back at camp we had our final speaker of the day Campbell Muldoon who works alongside Mr Bryan Prattern at “Muldoon Prattern Ag Consultancy”. The main area which Campbell spoke on was general Cotton Agronomy and he covered everything from the climatic effects, soils, what the root system does and other aspects of growing cotton.

We then had a few games, dinner, social time and took ourselves off to bed to be ready for the next day of the Cotton camp.


Day 3 (Tuesday the 3rd of May 2016)

The day once again was a 7am start and a hot breakfast was on the menu.

Our first speaker was James Craft who is the Production Agronomist at Pioneer Seeds. He focused his talk on Genetic Modification (GM). James explained the methods used for genetic modification and how GM has aided farming practices worldwide and improved productivity. Then James outlined the many challenges faced by GM scientists  throughout the growing world.

We were then taken by bus to Auscotts Trangie cotton gin. Here we were split into two groups and given a tour of the gin and it was explained to us what was happening to the cotton at each section of the ginning process. Whilst we were there I witnessed a minor plant mishap, which was caused through a blockage in the top cotton feeding pipe.

We were then driven to the second gin, which we were unable to go through as they had experienced a major break down. So we took this opportunity to have lunch. We then went to Rebel Ag. Whilst we were at Rebel Ag we were instructed on their methods of aerial crop spraying and fertiliser application. They are also involved in bush fire fighting. We were shown a few crop dusting aircraft and were given a brief explanation of how they worked. We were then taken to the rear of their premises where the big agricultural companies deliver their chemicals for use in the crop dusters. Ciaran was particularly interested in this tour.

Lastly we returned to camp had dinner, played games, socialised and went to bed.

Day 4 (Wednesday the 4th of May 2016)

We were woken once again about 7am and had another delicious breakfast prepared by the great Rotary volunteers.

Our first speaker was a representative from Landmark and he spoke to us about cotton Insurance. He gave us a general overview of his job and told us how they work out the premium for the crops.

We then continued on our way out to the newly improved Narromine Irrigation Scheme. At this location we were lectured on how the two big water pumps worked and how much money it cost to rebuild the irrigation complex to what it is now.

The final place we visited was Chesterfield at Dubbo, which is a huge machinery dealership. Whilst we were there we were given a tour of the large workshop and were allowed to inspect a few of their tractors which they had on site.

We then returned to camp, had a presentation of participation certificates and filled in a brief questionnaire on what was good about the camp and what could be improved. We then shared a barbeque lunch and left for home.

The obvious highlight for the camp for Ciaran was the presentation by Rebel Ag and he now wishes to become a helicopter pilot and has an interest in aviation. For me the highlights were all of the Agronomists’ presentations, as I wish to pursue Agronomy as my career path and this gave me a good insight into what is involved in Cotton Agronomy.

Ciaran and I would both like to thank Narromine Rotary, especially Geoff Smith and his dedicated team for running this four day camp and making it an enjoyable, inspirational and memorable experience.

Written by Samuel



Samuel’s testimonial – RYCOTT camp

I was honoured to be selected as a participant of the 2016 RYCOTT camp at Narromine, NSW. I wish to thank the Rotary club of Narromine for presenting an exceptional, agricultural experience in all facets of the Cotton Industry. The care and guidance given by the members of the Narromine Rotary club led by Mr Geoff Smith and his team was exceptional and made the camp fun.

As my choice of a career path is the agricultural sector, I found this camp beneficial and it provided me with further insight into the cotton industry and strengthened my resolve for a career in the agricultural industry. I highly recommend these camps to any agricultural student, given the opportunity to attend.  The RYCOTT camp is a great networking and social experience with other students who are like minded and want a career in agriculture.


Samuel Carpenter