Namoi cotton powerhouse

Cotton powerhouse in the Namoi Valley now in play

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A recent 'sea change' decision by Andrew and his wife Kim Revell to join the macadamia industry on the Far North Coast has put into play one of the Namoi Valley's top-performing cotton farms.

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A recent 'sea change' decision by Andrew and his wife Kim Revell to join the macadamia industry on the Far North Coast has put into play one of the Namoi Valley's top-performing cotton farms.

Wire Lagoon, a highly-developed irrigation farm of 738 hectares (1824ac), has been held by the Revell family for 16 years.

On July 25, it will go to auction in Narrabri with Landmark Harcourts.

Andrew and Kim Revell originally bought their Alstonville macadamia farm as a diversification move, but they became so attracted to the area that they now plan to up stumps and relocate.

It wasn't an easy decision, as the Revell family has been part of the Wee Waa farming scene since 1970.

It was at that time they moved to the Namoi Valley from Kununurra in Western Australia.

Andrew's parents, David and Helen, originally orchardists at Box Hill (Victoria), had been among the first wave of farmers selected to take up irrigation blocks in 1962 on the Ord River Scheme.

After seven pioneering years on the Ord, they were drawn to the new cotton growing area then opening up at Wee Waa, where they started sharefarming.

Soon they were able to buy their own farms, which they ran under family partnerships.

David and Helen recently retired to the coast, but the family still owns other properties around Spring Plains.

Wire Lagoon is situated in cotton-growing heartland 15 kilometres north-east of Wee Waa.

It was among the first wave of former grazing properties to be converted to intensive agriculture.

Formerly owned by the local Holtsbaum family, Wire Lagoon was developed for irrigation in the 1960s by pioneer Namoi cotton grower Bruce Mackey.

Mr Mackey sold it to the Revells in 2002.

Of the total area, 428ha is developed for irrigation in nine fields within flood protection levees.

This is supported by approximately 3000 megalitres of water entitlements from the Namoi River and two bores.

Cotton yields since 2012 have consistently topped 12 bales/ha, with average crop yields of 15.8b/ha being achieved in both 2015 and 2016.

Their fully-irrigated 2019 crop is shaping up to yield 14.5b/ha.

While the water position for the upcoming year is uncertain, an area of 278ha is fallowed in readiness, and a crop is at least assured by the availability of bore water.

The irrigation system has been progressively upgraded since the 1990s, which has improved the efficiency of tailwater reticulation and enable large volumes of water to be moved between fields.

Surface water for irrigation is delivered via the communal Cotton Picking Water Syndicate irrigation scheme.

Water is then held on farm pending usage (along with recycled tailwater) in an 800ML capacity storage dam.

Apart from the irrigation, a further 146ha of the property is developed for dryland farming and is sown in rotation to wheat, durum and grain legume crops.

An attractive brick and weatherboard homestead of four bedrooms with renovated kitchen and outdoor entertaining area is set in established gardens with in-ground pool and tennis court.

It is complemented by three cottages for family or staff, and extensive working improvements including machinery sheds, workshop, horse stables and 988 tonnes of silo capacity.

Bidding for Wire Lagoon is expected around $10 million.

By PETER AUSTIN.

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