Record number of key players flock to Ord River Irrigation Scheme for crop update
WA’s Ord River Irrigation Scheme has played host to a bumper crop of more than 150 national agricultural industry players, during what organisers say was the biggest-ever crop field day held in Kununurra.
The event was hosted by Northern Australia Crop Research Alliance, which was formed in 2016 as a collaboration between the Ord River District Co-operative, Kimberley Agricultural Investments and The Chia Company.
The organisation was created to develop top cropping production systems with a focus on big fields and best quality, with the hope it could quadruple farmgate prices to $55 million by 2020.
NACRA believes a further $15 million could be earned in the same period by introducing cotton-growing to the region.
Among Tuesday’s eclectic crowd were farmers, processors, marketers and distributors, agronomists, genetics and crop breeding researchers, who took great interest in this year’s cotton and grains trials.
NACRA chair John Foss, who founded The Chia Co, said that attendance at the field walk had doubled each year since NACRA started in 2016, and more than 100 of yesterday’s guests from interstate.
“Integrating farm cropping systems in our unique irrigated tropical environment is central to NACRA’s mission,” he said.
“This year’s field walk was timed around the harvest of the Ord cotton trials.
“Integrating a cotton farming system with current and future grains crops is essential if Ord farmers are to get the most out of the available land and water.
“We’re delivering research funded by local farmers and industry, and supported by the Commonwealth and State governments.”
A big focus of the tour was the Ord’s cotton trials, which are growing across more than 300ha.
The trials’ success has reignited hopes that the industry could finally be reborn, decades after insect pests caused the collapse of commercial cotton production at the Ord River.
Hopes are pinned on a new method of cotton planting, good results from smaller trials last year, and ongoing research and development support.
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