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Autumn 2016

Cotton On and On RowAg Farming

The Incitec Pivot Fertilisers Service to the Cotton Industry Award looks for individuals who have provided exceptional service and shown significant commitment to the Australian Cotton Industry, achieved a positive impact on the Australian Cotton Industry, and contributed a legacy for the industry’s ‘greater good’. This is a unique category among the Australian Cotton Industry Awards in that people are secretly nominated by a third party and the Recipient is selected by a judging panel. Finalists are not announced; instead, the Recipient is invited to the Cotton Awards Dinner not knowing that he or she has been nominated, let alone chosen, and the announcement comes as a surprise. The surprised, but well-deserving, Recipient of the 2015 award was Cleave Rogan, of RowAg Farming in the St George irrigation area of Queensland.

Cleave belongs to a family that has strong connections with and has made numerous valuable contributions to the cotton industry. His parents owned Benelong, a ballot block that became available once Beardmore Dam was built, where they planted their first cotton crop in 1978. Cleave joined the operation in a full-time capacity in 1981, and he and his siblings worked alongside their father in the development of the infrastructure, seeing their operation grow over many years of work. Cleave and his wife Johnelle took over their own farm, Bookamerrie, in 2005.

Over the three and a half decades that he has been involved with the cotton industry, Cleave has witnessed many changes, with technological advances being possibly the common factor. According to Cleave: ‘Significant improvements in the cotton industry have been facilitated by the world-leading research that has been at the forefront of the modern Australian cotton industry. There have been improvements to the plant varieties and this translates to enormous positive changes in farm management, notably, improvements in nutrition, energy and water use and efficiency and in insect, weed and disease management. These changes have resulted in improvements in the downstream process that culminates with the final cotton product’. But that’s not all: ‘This innovation within the industry, facilitated by its world-leading research, also encourages young people to join in. There is something contagious in seeing the passion of others, and this is a very open industry, where ideas are shared freely, ready to be incorporated into everyone’s operation’.

Cleave has served the cotton industry in many different ways over the years. He has been a member and key driver of the Fusarium Working Group and the Rural Water Users Efficiency Regional Committee and was an instigator of a local Area Wide Management Group. In addition, Cleave was a long term member and executive member of the Australian Cotton Growers Research Association (ACGRA), and was actively involved in the historic merging of the ACGRA and Cotton Australia in November 2008, moving onto the new Cotton Australia board with a mandate to provide advice and direction on research, policy and best practice on behalf of Australia’s cotton growers. Cleave played an important role within the exciting new period for the cotton growing industry that was ushered by the merge, and he served on the Cotton Australia board until 2011. During this period he was also the Chair of the TIMS Herbicide Technical Panel where he reviewed and discussed the proposed and existing resistance management plans, and he was the chair of a hugely successful Australian Cotton conference in 2010. In 2011 Cleave took the opportunity to further his passion for Research and Development, becoming a Director of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC). He has for a long time acted in an advisory role to CRDC, working on research projects related to biosecurity, insects, weeds, diseases, cotton fibre processing and quality enhancement. He has also been a long term co-operator with Cotton Seed Distributors in their cotton seed variety trials and selflessly offered his farms, his time and resources for countless fertiliser, chemical and irrigation trials and research projects all aimed at improving the sustain- ability and viability of cotton production.

But Cleave has experienced many other satisfying moments in his career. From a farm-level grower perspective, for instance, he aims at ‘being sustainable and profitable’, and finds it stimulating that ‘the bar seems able to keep on getting higher when it comes to yield’. Cleave also feels proud of team successes like RowAg Farming being the recipient of the St George Cotton Growers’ Association Farm Hygiene Award for five years in a row, and of playing a role in facilitating and optimising extension of research within the cotton industry, whereby growers consider, and may adopt, positive changes to their practices. From a broader perspective, Cleave has felt rewarded every time he has sought election and become a representative of an industry organisation, and regardless of the level of representation he has ‘always wanted to have growers at the forefront of any decisions’. For Cleave, being actively involved in the industry comes naturally, and he finds his involvement with ‘such high-level research- ers, growers and professional people’ in the cotton industry ‘truly invigorating’. Cleave sees the Service Award as a ‘fantastic highlight’ in his career, and acknowledges that he was ‘extremely humbled’ by it. He goes on to say that without the ‘massive amount of support’ provided by his wife, Johnelle, no achievement would have been possible. He also recognises that numerous people have had a significant impact on his career so far, including the late Ian Thomas from St George, a fellow Cotton Industry Awardee who, early in Cleave’s dealings with the industry, was on several boards and took the time and interest to give Cleave insights into issues such as representation and board etiquette and encourage- ment. There has also been support from other types of business that support the industry, including from Vanderfield St George, with whom Cleave has ‘an extremely long relationship, from back in the days when they operated from a farm shed in St George. Their support, from a sales’ perspective through to all aspects of maintenance, is fantastic for a rural area. The technical advancements in all their machinery and the support dedicated by Vanderfield staff with all that technology is magnificent’, says Cleave.

Nominations to the 2016 Cotton Industry Awards close on 1st April 2016. Cleave will keep drawing on his well-honed time management skills as he adds taking part in the judging panel for the Services to the Industry category to his many other, carefully chosen commitments, including managing his own operation, spending time with his family, participating in field days, promoting the cotton industry, and mentoring younger growers. Through it all, in the good times as well as in the more challenging ones, Cleave is proud to be part of the cotton industry and the St George community.

Hedging North

Nick Ormsby is originally from Renmark in South Australia were he learnt his skills in hedging and horticulture. He relocated to Darwin nine years ago and purchased an owner operator business consisting of one hedging machine and so was the creation of Ormsby Hedging Pty Ltd. As the business grew Nick relocated the company’s headquarters to premises in Katherine and has been trading as Northern Hedging and Contracting. Under Nick’s management the company now operates the following business segments:

● Hedging division - consisting of three four-blader and one five-blader hedger
● Transport division - Two drop deck floats to transport machinery and freight
● Spraying and horticulture contracting division – delivering large spraying, slashing and other contract work capabilities.

Nick and the team deliver quality services all over the Northern Territory, providing experienced and efficient services to local and rural regions of Darwin, Katherine and outer regions of Northern Territory and also offering their services to other states as required. They specialise in cutting mango and citrus trees, sandalwood, mahogany plantations, roadsides and verges.

We asked Nick to explain the different specialised cutting services offered by Northern Hedging and Contracting and the benefits that they provide: ‘Tip pruning cuts the growth back to hardened timber, which can promote flowering; skirting cuts under the tree, and this helps prevent disease, allows easier access for workers and also makes irrigation, weed control and property management easier. Late topping cuts the tops off the tree to let the sunlight in, because the more sunlight inside the tree, the more flowering can occur. Post-harvest cutting prepares the trees in the best shape for the next harvest. Finally, hedging sides, or crossing, allows maximum sunlight absorption, encourages four sides of fruit and promotes flowering.’ Our recent expansion into the spraying and horticulture contracting segment has involved the acquisition of five John Deere tractors, two 6125Ms and three 6105Ms. Our equipment is second to none. Due to the nature of our work we have built cages for them in-house. We use the tractors to spray and slash between rows of our customers’ Sandalwood trees’, says Nick. Regarding his choice of John Deere tractors, Nick points out that John Deere offers excellent quality, and that they hold their value very well, being sought after even in the second-hand market (‘they’re very resalable’). ‘I’d like to thank Andrew Simon and Monique Vajda from Vanderfield for looking after me. I’ve been dealing with Vanderfield for nine years and they’ve always been very good’, says Nick.

Other services offered by Nick and the team at Northern Hedging and Contracting include grass control, transport services with their drop deck floats and farm machinery maintenance. Nick is very proud of the high standard of their work: ‘We hold current Chemical Certification and Northern Territory Accreditation pertaining to Horticulture. We take care in what we do, and pride ourselves on the quality of our workmanship’.

The best reward for his job is, according to Nick, ‘doing it well. I like to be able to offer a service that gives my customers the opportunity to increase their profit. This happens through a decrease in pest and disease, promoted flowering and fruit production, and easier harvesting due to prior preparation. Our customers appreciate that our services translate to controlled and manageable tree sizes with less percentage of dead wood, easier access and better spray coverage. As for weed management, some equipment is fitted with Trimble Weed Seeker infrared cameras that can reduce herbicide use by up to 80%. We want our customers to get value for money’, explains Nick. If you want to consider the benefits of implementing a hedging program in your orchard, contact Nick Ormsby on 0409 120 036. As he says, complacency ruins perfection!

And for your John Deere and agricultural machinery needs and queries, give your local Vanderfield branch a ring on 1300 VANDER.

Holy Grail of campdrafting Warwick Show and Rodeo

A lot has changed since Patrick Leslie and his brothers Walter and John brought some stock over and squatted in the run they named Canning Downs, in the modern-day Southern Downs region of Queensland, in 1840. Seven years later, the station had already been chosen by the NSW government to locate what was to become the township of Warwick. Patrick bought the first allotment in 1850, and the Canning Downs homestead now lies a few kilometres away from the Warwick CBD. Buckjump competitions were held at Canning Downs from at least as early as 1857, and the famous Warwick Rodeo officially started in 1906. According to information written by John Skinner for the Warwick Show and Rodeo website, the Warwick Gold Cup remains today as the ‘Holy Grail’ of campdrafting in Australia. In fact, around 1,800 campdrafters compete over about six days of competition at the end of October every year in Warwick, with very decent prize money being spread about.

Campdrafting is recognised as a national sport by the Australian Institute of Sport. The first formal campdrafting competition took place in Tenterfield at the Tenterfield Show Society's 1885 show, and the rules have remained largely the same since. The sport involves a horse and rider working cattle for a maximum score of 100 points. Twenty-six of these are allocated to the ‘cut out’, where horse and rider prove that they have a cow under control by blocking and turning it at least two or three times in the yard, or ‘camp’, that holds a minimum of six heads of sound stock. The horse and rider then take the cow out of the camp into a larger arena and guide it around two pegs in a particular, figure-eight, pattern before guiding it beyond and through ‘the gate’, which is two other pegs placed closer together. Horse work is allocated up to a further 70 points, and the remaining four points are for the course.

One of the competitors who has recently demonstrated her excellent skill and horsemanship is Shari Knudsen. In April 2015 Shari took the Australian Campdraft Association Champion Lady Rider title with a score of 90.5. Six months later, in October, she went on to win the Australian Stockman’s Saddlery and Vanderfield Hino Ladies' Silver Cup at the Warwick Rodeo. On that occasion, she rode Miley Stylish, six years old at the time, and they scored 86 in the first round and 87 in the final, for a two-round score of 173; it was a great year for this mother of two. Shari loves how a campdrafting competition is a ‘hard thing to conquer, with so many factors that could go wrong’, as the rider has to have the right horse for the event, pick the right cow from the mob (one that will run fast but not too fast for the horse), and be in control during the challenging, fast-paced event. The sport is a great leveller, and it is not uncommon for a horse and rider team that scores well in the first round to miss out on reaching the finals due to the next choice of cow not working out. Shari thinks that not being able to predict an event’s results is precisely ‘one of the reasons why people keep coming back’.

Shari is originally from Miriam Vale, in the Gladstone area. She was ‘born and bred on the land’, and comes from a line of campdrafting champions, as both her grandfather and great-grandfather have been winners of the prestigious Warwick Gold Cup, that ‘Melbourne Cup of Campdrafting’. It is not surprising that Shari was able to ride before walking, and her family of six participated in campdrafting arenas in different ways. Shari herself did ‘a lot of Show jumping, won a few state titles and dabbled in a few juvenile events’ before meeting her future husband, Peter, who also grew up on the back of a horse. Peter, his father, Wayne Knudsen, and his three brothers, Darcy, Rick and Ken, with their families, are well-known Chinchilla (and Taroom) cattle breeders and handlers, and campdrafting is a way of life for all of them. In fact, the National Museum of Australia website, on its Warwick Campdraft page, features, amongst photos of other great riders and horses, a photo of Peter riding Xena during the competition, and another one of some of the 2013 Gold Cup finalists including Shari on Bella Mia next to her sister in law Jackie on Talk About Design. Having got serious about campdrafting after she married Peter, Shari attributes a lot of her success to the help from him, her father-in-law Wayne and Gold Cup winner Peter O'Neill, from Roma. Shari and Peter are carrying on the family tradition with their two children, Mac and Hayley. Once the work is done at their property, Coondarra, all of them head off together to different events, around 20 per year, where the children currently participate in the junior categories and Shari and Peter enter in various competitions, including against each other. The atmosphere at these events is great for families. Shari points out that ‘everyone helps everyone else, and campdrafters are amongst the best of people to be around.’ It’s a busy life, though, with some pretty late nights travelling to and from events as well, but they have a good routine going and they are a good team that knows how to support each other. As Shari puts it, they are ‘a very well-oiled machine’.

In order to keep up with the exercising of their horses, Shari and Peter decided to set up a horse walker on their property. Having that installation keeps the horses well-conditioned and saves their riders quite a bit of time. Another time-saving strategy is to have a trailer to camp and travel in, so that there is no need to pack and unpack every time. To cart all their gear around, they now have a Hino truck, something Peter has always wanted, and they find Hino to be ‘a good, reliable truck that has never given any trouble’. It’s an automatic, 480hp, 700 series Hino and Shari notes that ‘it has a lot of power and is beautiful to drive’. The truck gets serviced by the Vanderfield Hino team in Toowoomba, three hours away from their home, but Shari explains that the fair way they travel for this purpose is well worth their while, since ‘the service is great and done in a good period of time; we know that they will fit us in and not keep us waiting’.

Numerous campdrafting events are planned for 2016, including the Warwick Rodeo and Campdraft on October 24th to 30th. Whether you decide to participate by being a spectator, a volunteer, or, like the Knudsen family, competitors, and even if, as a competitor, the cow you pick lets you down, it is highly likely that you, your family and your friends old and new will be ‘hooked’ by this great, fast-growing Australian sport. We would certainly encourage you to join in if you haven’t already because, as countless people have experienced, campdrafting will lure you in and you are certain to want to come back for more. And for all your Hino needs and enquiries, ring Vanderfield on 1300 VANDER.

Indigenous Businesses In The Seat of Stuart Attract Government Attention

The electorate of Stuart is seeing some very positive developments in Indigenous economic development in remote bush communities.

A great initiative has been established to address business growth impediments facing three Indigenous businesses in the middle of the Northern Territory. An alliance has been formed supported by two passionate veterans of business Greg Kimpton (NLC Liaison Officer for Bradshaw) and John Jansen (North Australian Rural Management Consultants) to support the businesses in a coordinated way to assist them in attracting larger contracts.

The three business MTP Contractor from Corella Creek, Triple P Contracting from Elliott and Bradshaw and Timber Creek Contracting and Resource Company from Timber Creek are meeting in Katherine this Saturday to collect their new equipment purchased through an IBA grant and to discuss the future of their businesses .Minister Price will be there to meet them and hear their news.

John Jansen says ‘Individually the businesses have specific expertise and are well established ‘on their patch’. They have enough equipment to deliver their core services. They each have 100% indigenous employment and are keen to continue this; however, the idea of combining resources, employees and knowledge has enabled the three businesses in the North Barkly and the Victoria River regions to successfully compete for larger contracts. By operating across a larger footprint will ultimately provide more Indigenous employment.’

Minister Price, the member for Stuart, where all three businesses are operating is very excited about the progress of the alliance. “ This kind of economic development is exactly what we have been striving for as a government and to see the success of these three Aboriginal owned business is validation that what we are doing is working. The range of practical support given to the business owners so far has improved their capacity to grow their individual businesses and ultimately employ, upskill and retain local Indigenous jobseekers, many of whom are LTUE jobseekers has been very successful.

The Member for Stuart Minister Bess Nungarrayi Price, said “The alliance has given us confidence as a government that these Indigenous business are capable, reliable and serious about undertaking government contracts. This is a growth area in the bush and as the member for Stuart I am very proud that this Indigenous business model is being established in my electorate. ‘

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