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Media release. Tom Quigley. 2015 Scholarship winner

Media release. Tom Quigley. 2015 Scholarship winner

Tom Quigley, from Trangie in New South Wales, has been awarded a prestigious Nuffield Scholarship supported by Cotton Australia and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation.

He will research growing cotton under pressurised overhead sprinkler irrigation.

Tom, with his family, manages Quigley Farms, a mixed 6000-hectare farming enterprise comprising up to 600 hectares of cotton depending on water availability, 2400 hectares of winter crops and 3000 hectares of grazing. The rotation includes irrigated cotton, dryland wheat, canola, chickpeas and grazing oats, while the livestock consists of grazing Merino ewes and cross-bred lambs, and Hereford X Angus cattle.

‘Sustaining the Basin’ government funding has allowed most cotton growers in Tom’s district to upgrade some of their irrigation infrastructure, and in the Macquarie Valley that has primarily been to overhead sprinkler irrigation.

Over the last two years Tom’s family has also upgraded, converting 40 per cent of their irrigation area from furrow irrigation into overhead pressurised sprinkler irrigation in the form of Lateral Move Irrigators.

However with the new, more efficient, infrastructure comes a different challenge, being the requirement for growers to also modify the associated farming techniques.

“Experienced cotton growers have been using traditional growing systems under the new infrastructure, but most are not getting the desired outcomes of better water use efficiency and yields – while we have seen a 10 per cent increase in yield, I think there is more potential to be gained.

I’d like to look at different farming systems that go specifically with growing cotton under sprinkler irrigation, particularly in regards to crop rotations and sequencing, cover crops, growing cotton on the flat, minimum and strip tillage, and crop nutrition,” he explains.

Tom will travel to the USA, considered the home of centre pivot irrigation, as well as China, Israel and other regions of Australia.

Cotton Australia CEO, Adam Kay, says: “The success of Australia’s cotton industry is due in great part to its commitment to innovation, and the Nuffield scholarship program plays a key role in that process.”

Tom will be a fantastic ambassador for our cotton industry overseas, and Cotton Australia and the CRDC congratulate him on achieving a Nuffield scholarship,” he says.

Cotton Research and Development Corporation Executive Director, Bruce Finney, added: “Nuffield’s scholarship program allows innovative growers to learn advanced farming methods from around the world and bring those techniques back so Australian farmers can apply them.

In this way, Nuffield contributes to the cotton industry’s progress in key areas such as water and chemical efficiency, on-farm management and better environmental outcomes,” he concluded.

Nuffield Australia is an organisation which provides an opportunity to Australian farmers to travel overseas on an agricultural research scholarship. It is a 16-week program consisting of both group and individual travel. The next groups will be travelling through New Zealand, Brazil, USA, Mexico, the UK, South Africa, Kenya and Europe in March-April 2015.

Tom is available for interviews to talk about his planned study.  Mobile: 0409 476 338

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