Monday, June 8, 2015

Cotton Growers Earn Prestigious Australian Award | by Shannon Peterson

Australian cotton growers, who happen to be Valley® customers, recently won the 2014 Brownhill Cup – one of Australia’s most prestigious agricultural awards. Andrew and Heike Watson were honored for reducing their water usage while increasing their yield at Kilmarnock – their family farm in Boggabri, New South Whales.
From left, Geoff Wearne and Tim Harvey of Agribusiness Banking
Commonwealth Bank and award-winner Andrew Watson.
Photo credit: Paul Matthews.

The Brownhill Cup recognizes farming practices that improve innovation and sustainability. Founder David Brownhill praised the Watsons for their continual improvement.

“Andrew and his team have made a considerable contribution to agriculture, and especially to the cotton sector,” Brownhill said. “Their field trials and on-farm research have contributed to the industry’s understanding of best practice, and they have set the bar high for innovative and sustainable farming practices.”

Andrew was prompted by the millennium drought to closely examine water efficiency measures. In fact, he received a prestigious Nuffield Farming Scholarship in 2006 that he used to focus on water use efficiency in irrigation.

“I began to investigate how we could most efficiently irrigate with the water we had,” Andrew said. “I did my scholarship research along those lines, so we decided we would invest in overhead irrigators.”

A visit to Valley Irrigation during his research led him to purchase a Valley Rainger™ Swing-Around linear and Valley BaseStation for remote monitoring and control. He has added two more linears, and his farm plan calls for investing in more linears and a center pivot over time.

Andrew said learning to use irrigation has really made a difference. He believes mechanized irrigation is a more efficient use of the farm’s resources, both water and land.

“Our water usage has reduced by about 20 percent over the past 11 years, while our yield is up by about 30 percent,” he said when receiving the award.

Andrew was named New South Wales Farmer’s ‘Young Farmer of the Year’ in 2004 and won the ‘Australian Cotton Grower of the Year Award’ in 2008. He also served as the 
Cotton Australia board chairman.

Read more about the Watson farm and the award here.

Shannon Peterson
Marketing Content Editor

Shannon joined Valley Irrigation in 2013. She writes and edits materials about irrigation equipment. Shannon enjoys traveling with her family, particularly to national parks, and she occasionally writes about her travels for tourism magazines. She also likes trying new restaurants, seeing movies, and watching Husker football and Creighton basketball.