Recipient of the AgriRisk High Achiever award, Mark Cathcart has been growing cotton for 35 years and currently manages 280 hectares of irrigated cotton on CSD Farms, near Wee Waa.
“I think that CSD Farms has something to offer to the awards: it’s going to show people what we are all about, and show that we’re really doing something important for the industry,” Mr Cathcart said.
Across the aggregation of 1130ha, CSD Farms have three principle functions: early generation seed increase, cotton crop research and technology trials.
Mr Cathcart and his team take breeder seed provided by CSIRO and over successive years screen and produce volumes of potential varieties which can then be grown out by commercial seed growing partners.
“It is basically like a research farm, but most of our work is seed increase for our company,” Mr Cathcart said.
“When we’re growing cotton for seed, we are not always looking for the highest yield; we’re looking for evenness of finish so that we have a more mature, timely crop.”
I think that CSD Farms has something to offer to the awards
Mr Cathcart is also responsible for leading the team conducting a vast array of trials including screening of new varieties for diseases such as verticillium, crop spacing and row configuration for dryland and irrigated systems, irrigation technologies, crop nutrition, seed treatments, as well as new biotechnology.
“In any one year we could have between 20 and 30 different trials going,” he said.
“The trials may be seed, product or technology related, and while we try not to overload ourselves, we do as much as we possibly can.”
With six commercial cotton varieties currently grown, CSD Farms is a really important link in the chain for the whole cotton industry.
“We get a first look at a variety, we’ll evaluate it, trial it and see if it’s got a fit for the industry,” Mr Cathcart said.
To achieve the highest seed quality as well as commercially acceptable lint yields, extensive soil testing is done annually to determine soil needs, depletion and remediation.
“I find it exciting,” he said.