VIDEO: Boggabri cotton grower takes farming top gong

By: Carene Chong

Presented by

Australia’s most prestigious farming accolade, the Bronwhill Cup has been awarded to the Watson family of Kilmarnock Farming this year for their sustainable practices and implementation of innovations on their farm in Boggabri, New South Wales.

The award was presented at Commonwealth Bank’s site at the AgQuip field days on Wednesday where the Watsons received the Cup, a plaque and a $2,000 prize that will allow them to attend an industry event that aligns with the goals of the Brownhill Cup.

Awarded annually, the Bronwhill Cup aims to acknowledge the efforts of farmers who invest in on-farm innovations and practices to improve sustainability, productivity and profitability.

Andrew and Heike Watson were rewarded for their commitment to ecological and economic sustainability, which include initiatives ranging from on-farm research and development, to involvement in the Climate Champion program.

They run a 3,000 hectare property in Boggabri NSW consisting of a mix of dry land and irrigated crops, particularly cotton. The business has been in the family since Andrew’s father, John Watson bought Kilmarnock in 1965.

Commonwealth Bank NSW General Manager of Regional and Agribusiness Banking Tim Harvey, who presented the award, says the Watson’s efforts will not only help the family business but also the entire cotton industry.

"The Watsons recognise the connection between environmental sustainability, innovation in farming and a strong agricultural economy,"he says.

"By sharing their learnings with the wider farming community they are helping to create a positive future for the industry."

Some of the technologies utilised on the Watson’s farm include moisture sensors and crop canopy heat sensors to determine when and how much irrigation their crops need. The technologies not only helped them save water but irrigation costs as well.

They also implement sustainable farm practices such as zero till farming and natural pest control by creating environments on-farm that attract beneficial insects to destroy pests instead of relying heavily on spraying.

According to Andrew, the family has always had a strong focus on environmental sustainability as well as innovation on-farm.

"When I came home to the family farm, one of the first things my father said to me was if you want to change something you’ve got to trial it first," he says.

Hence, trial and error plays a huge part in Kilmarnock Farming, where Andrew has run a wide range of trials over the years including seed treatment, marginal nitrogen, liquid nitrogen, organic/manure fertiliser and more.

"We’ve discarded some of the ideas over the years, but we’ve been able to take on board a lot of new things too," Andrew says.

The Brownhill Cup turned 30 this year and has been sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank Regional and Agribusiness Banking and the Brownhill family since its inception. It has now become a highlight of the AgQuip farming field days, Australia’s largest annual agricultural event.

AgQuip ran from August 19 to 21 this year and over 100,000 visitors were expected to stream through the gates.

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