Learn about the Australian cotton industry from the growers that produce the crop.
Tony Quigley says it is unlikely he will grow cotton next year.
Tony Quigley, Nevertire, central NSW
“We are more than just cotton growers.
“We farm with our sons. Apart from cotton, we also grow dryland wheat, canola, chickpeas and run sheep and cattle.
“Cotton growing is like a Meccano set – there’s a whole lot of pieces to it, and you’ve got to get them all right. It’s about timing and doing the simple things well to grow high-yielding crops.
“In years of low or no [water] allocation, we don’t grow cotton – we simply don’t have the water to do it.
“[This year’s crop] is actually grown on water that ran into Burrendong Dam in 2016 in the floods that we’ve retained so we’ve got continuity of production over three seasons.
“The way we’re sitting right now, I think it’s very unlikely we will grow any cotton next year; and that’s the beauty of being an integrated farm, that we’ll have other crops to fall back on.
“The biggest misconception is that cotton’s a thirsty crop. Any summer crop will use eight or nine megalitres to the hectare, and in fact, we’ve focussed very hard on water use efficiency over the last 15 years and are now producing 50 per cent more cotton than we were, per megalitre of water.
“I think the call to ban cotton exports is silly. It won’t reduce water use at all – we will go to the next profitable crop; so what it will actually do is take money out of these rural and regional economies because there won’t be as many people employed.
“Get your feet on the ground. Don’t complain from city areas about what we’re doing, come and have a look for yourself.”