Mixed result still a winner for cotton grower

STRONG ROOTS: Nic Clapham shows the superior root growth on a cotton plant grown using pre-emergent film versus standard planting.
STRONG ROOTS: Nic Clapham shows the superior root growth on a cotton plant grown using pre-emergent film versus standard planting. Megan Masters

DESPITE having nothing but bad luck, Nic Clapham is still pretty certain using pre-emergent film as part of his cotton planting regime has netted him some gains.

Mr Clapham has been involved in a trial by OneCrop designed to put new planting technology to the test.

He was at the cotton industry field day held at Queensland Farmers' Federation president Stuart Armitage's property near Pittsworth to share his experiences with the new technology.

The pre-emergent film is based on ancient technology designed to create a micro-climate in the planting rows that saves moisture and keeps temperatures higher, resulting in stronger root growth and more certain germination.

Mr Clapham and the OneCrop team, which consisted of technology developer David McGrath and machinery developer Michael Freeman, initially had some poor luck on a temperature gamble with this year's trial.

And that was on the back of last year's trial crop being hailed out.

When it came time to plant this time, they eyed off the temperature forecasts and took a gamble that ironically managed to prove the technology useful while simultaneously rendering the trial technically unsuccessful.

"We planted on October 12 and it was very cold when we planted,” Mr Clapham said.

"It got down to one or two degrees in the morning and then it rained on top of that, so it was starting on cold, wet ground.

"Where we planted under the film we got seven or eight seeds established to the metre, but where it wasn't under the film we only got one or two, which meant we had to re-plant.

"That ruined our trial a bit because we were trying to replicate.”

Luckily he had a nearby paddock he could use as a comparison, but because the two sites were planted with different paddock histories it was not a trial-level comparison.

It did still provide a few eye-openers, including impressive root growth.

When first developing the biodegradable film covering, Mr McGrath said the real aim was to combat the problem of temperatures being too low when moisture was high enough and moisture being too low when temperatures were high enough.

It was all about catching the sweet spot and Mr Clapham said he felt the trial at his property proved it could be done.

He said with the re-planting costs of the failed site, all he needed was half a bale more per acre for the crop to break even with the standard field.

Topics:  cotton industry planting

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