Cotton Industry Shines At Annual Awards

14 August, 2006

__Five of the cotton industry’s top performers in cotton production, science and service to the industry were applauded last night at the 2006 Australian Cotton Industry Awards on the Gold Coast.

Held as a culmination to the industry’s successful conference this week, over 800 guests gathered to celebrate and pay tribute to its leaders.

Winners were announced by sponsor representatives in five categories including High Achiever, Young Achiever, Researcher of the Year, Service to Industry and Grower of the Year.

They included the industry’s top plant breeder Dr Greg Constable, young water use efficiency guru Sarah Hood, John Grellman with four decades of industry service and cotton farms “Bullamon Plains” at St George and “Auscott’s” Namoi Valley Operations.

Cotton Australia Director, Mr Geoff Hewitt, said the Awards have continued to grow and are enjoying great success.

“The task of the judges seems to get harder every year and there is no shortage of talented individuals in our industry worthy of recognition,” Mr Hewitt said.

“The depth of skills, innovation, knowledge and personal commitment in this industry is astounding and everyone who was nominated deserves to be congratulated,” he said.

“We would also like to acknowledge the significant contribution of our sponsors – AgriRisk, Cotton Seed Distributors, Elders, Monsanto and Twynam, who not only contribute financially but as judges and organisers as well,” he said.

Monsanto Grower Of The Year Winner

“Auscott – Namoi Valley Operations”

**Narrabri****, New South Wales**

Auscott’s Namoi Valley Operations is an 11,637 hectare enterprise located 20km west of Narrabri. Employing 21 permanent staff, the farm is managed by Ben Stephens under the guidance of General Manager Bernie George. ""Auscott"" has almost 9,000 hectares under development, with its main rotation crops being cotton and wheat, all sown with minimum tillage. “Auscott” grows a combination of conventional and Bollgard varieties, using the best yielding and highest quality varieties for the valley. 580 hectares of the farm is managed native vegetation, mostly in flood ways to slow water flow during storm events. Cotton growing at “Auscott” is an exact science, every field is monitored closely throughout the year and the data is collected and recorded in order to make good management decisions for soil, water and pests based on the field’s individual characteristics.

Melinda Crofts, Agronomist

Ph: (02) 6799 1400

Mob: 0428 991 452

**

AgriRisk High Achiever Of The Year Winner

“Bullamon Plains”, The Willis Family

St George, Queensland

“Bullamon Plains” was founded in 1928 and is owned and operated by the Willis family. Located about 65kms south of St George this 16,000 hectare mixed farming enterprise consists of 3,000 hectares of dryland cropping, 11,000 hectares of grazing country and 1,300 hectares of irrigated cotton. “Bullamon Plains” has a major commitment to improving water use efficiency, and is particularly focussed on minimising evaporative losses. Techniques include the installation of short supply channels, water storages centrally located to reduce travel distance, deep storages with high walls and investments in a “Bankless Channel Irrigation Project.” The management team also takes utmost care in timing irrigations and applying water with precision. Attention is payed to maximising flow rates and minimising application times with the longest fields never having water on them for more than 12 hours and the shorter fields never more than seven hours.

Ed Willis, Farm Manager

Ph: (07) 4625 9158

Mob: 0427 259 028

__ACGRA CSD Researcher Of The Year Award Winner

Dr Greg Constable, Program Leader Cotton Management and Improvement, CSIRO Plant Industry

**Narrabri****, New South Wales**

Dr Constables’ research interests include cotton breeding for specific cropping systems, the physiology of cotton growth and the use of that science for crop management research for viable and sustainable research. He has also led the industry’s research efforts in cotton breeding for high fibre quality, water use efficiency and the rapid development of genetically modified breeding lines with multiple traits. He was a crucial part of CSIRO’s scientific team that used a combination of genetic modification, conventional breeding and insect ecology to tackle cotton’s worst pest, the Heliocoverpa caterpillar. Dr Constable was instrumental in breeding cotton varieties containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) genes that are lethal to Heliocoverpa. These CSIRO varieties which now represent about 75% of all cotton planted in Australia, have led to a 25 fold reduction in pesticide use and save the cotton industry approximately $180 million a year on chemical application.

Ph: (02) 6799 1522

Email: greg.constable@csiro.au

p. *Cotton Industry AgriRisk Service To Industry Award Winner**

John Grellman, Cotton Grower

Wee Waa, New South Wales

John Grellman is involved in a family farming operation in the Merah North area. He has been involved in cotton production since 1968 following his move to Wee Waa and two-year stint working for John Holcombe at ‘Purlewah’. In 1970 John worked for the Australian and American Development Company at ‘Weetawaa’ before the 1971 flood which caused major financial problems for the company. In 1974 John was approached to take on the General Manager role for the Agricultural Division of Hungerford Hill’s cotton property ‘Cudgewa’. In the same year, John became a member of the Board of Cotton Seed Distributors Ltd (CSD), a position he still holds today. John has also served as Chairman of CSD since 1997. Over the years John has been actively involved in many cotton industry activities and has been a director and/or Chairman on many of the Australian cotton industry’s key organisations. John was a member of the Australian Cotton Growers Research Association (ACGRA) from 1989-2000 and ACGRA’s Chairman in 1998 and 1999. John also represented ACGRA on the Australian Cotton Industry Council for a two year term.

Ph: (02) 6795 5177

Mob: 0427 651 249

Young Achiever Of The Year Award Winner

Sarah Hood, Director Sustainable Irrigation Systems

St George, Queensland

Sarah Hood is the Director of Sustainable Irrigation Systems, a consultancy she established to service growers in St George and Dirranbandi and more recently Mungindi and Tallwood. Sarah has been a key player in the development of practical strategies for the measurement and improvement of the Australian cotton industry’s irrigation performance. She has also championed a more informed and improved water image of Australian irrigated cotton. In 1999 Sarah became the Rural Water Use Efficiency Initiative Development Extension Officer based in St George and Dirranbandi. Her tenure saw her benchmark the current water use efficiency of the Queensland cotton industry and develop practical strategies for improved irrigation. Led by Dr Phil Goyne and Geoff McIntyre along with extension officers in each Queensland cotton valley, Sarah was part of a successful extension program team which won a Queensland Department of Primary Industries award in 2003.

Ph: (07) 4625 5506

Mob: 0428 255 506