THERE aren't many cotton farmers out there using centre pivot irrigation, an anomaly that helped Ross Uebergang win the Darling Downs Grower of the Year award.
Mr Uebergang is set to share what he has learned after the best part of a decade watering his crops with centre pivot irrigation at an upcoming cotton field day.
His Chinchilla property, Tinobah, will be one of the field sessions at the day-long workshop.
Mr Uebergang said he didn't think centre pivot would ever quite match the yields of a flood-irrigated crop but he was fast closing in after years of trial and error.
He said water efficiency was one of the biggest components of his business plan, given some of the soil on his property was quite lightand didn't hold moisture well.
"Our soil only carries about 150mm of stored moisture but somewhere along the way it has to get 1000mm of moisture to get a high-yielding crop,” he said.
"I believe centre pivot isn't pushed because people believe you won't get enough water onto them to get a high yield.
"We try to get the most out of stored moisture as well as using applied water effectively, minimum or no-till planting and we keep as much ground cover as possible.”
He said on one hand he saved plenty of effort not having head ditches and table drains, an incentive that has him moving over to the centre pivots for even more of his operations.
He said this year was a tough one, with well below-average rainfall, meaning some of his plants were getting stressed by the time the centre pivot was scheduled, but most years he found it a relatively low-effort way of achieving yields of up to 13.3tonnes per hectare.
He said it required a bit more thinking than traditional methods but had cut the hard labour down.
He said anything under 11t/ha would be disappointing but the jury was still out on this season's yield.
"Who knows what this year will bring because it has been hot and dry the whole time,” Mr Uebergang said.
"I still think good flood irrigation would out-yield centre pivot but I reckon there might be only a bale between them in the end.”
He said managing moisture in wheel tracks had taken a bit of lateral thinking but his skills had improved markedly in the unusual irrigation style and he believed there was more room to refine his methods.
The Darling Downs Cotton Grower of the Year field day will be held on March 1, with visits to the Uebergang's property as well as the property of Mac Baartz, the Darling Downs High Achiever of the Year.
Attendees will also hear from industry experts on topics like dry land cotton farming, ginning and achieving more for less with irrigation.
For further information or to RSVP, email Mary O'Brien at email@example.com or phone 0408 982 291.
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