Research the key to cotton innovation at Dunedoo22 Jul 2021
When James Frampton planted his first cotton crop in 2017, he’d already spent three years researching the crop.
After purchasing ‘Talbragar Park’, just south of Dunedoo in 2011, James established a mixed farming operation of summer and winter crops, prime lamb and cattle. His agronomist said that the property could also be well suited for cotton production, and so began a collaborative effort of research and crop trials.
“It was very much driven from grassroots,” said James.
“(We had) Bayer, CSD (Cotton Seed Distributors) and our agronomist all together, helping me to get into it.”
“We did probably three years of research, putting in a weather station and getting weather data to prove we could grow cotton.”
“Bayer staff were very instrumental early on, and then came later with CSD, who provided cotton seed to trial different varieties to see how they were going to work in our environment.”
James was also supported by cotton growers from other regions, who were keen to share their knowledge and experiences.
“When we first kicked off in the cotton industry, people were very keen to help. Even other farmers were very willing to help because no matter how much cotton I grow here, I can never affect the price in Australia.”
The journey from research, to trial, to commercial cotton production has been a steep learning curve for James.
“Cotton is, for me, a fun process because I’ve learned a lot and I’ve become a better farmer, because I’ve understood the mechanics of growing a crop,” he said.
James’ cotton crops have generated a lot of interest in the region, and his openness to share his experiences with others has contributed to a number of surrounding farmers considering cotton in the 2021-22 season.
Early on, James recognised the potential benefit of cotton as a resistance management tool, as well as a financial risk mitigation strategy.
“We’re focused on cleaning up our country and trying to get rid of herbicide resistant weed issues through different herbicide modes of action in our sprays. We’re really trying to look after our environment.”
“We’ve kept a good rotation, we haven’t put cotton back onto cotton.”
“We’re not just a cotton farm. We try very hard to spread our risk with our cattle, lambs, cropping, irrigation – it’s not just one industry. Moving forward, cotton is definitely part of our model in our very diverse operation.”
“Growing cotton has definitely made me a better farmer – one hundred percent”