Stories: On the Farm
Ashley Geldard - Miles, Queensland
Award winning cotton farmer uses coal seam gas water to irrigate crops.
AgriRisk High Achiever Cotton Farmer of the year 2021: Ashley Geldard
Securing a constant water supply and changing row configurations has proven beneficial for Ashley Geldard’s cotton farming operation in Miles on the Western Downs, Queensland – and won him the AgriRisk High Achiever Cotton Farmer of the year in 2021.
Ashley farms 750 hectares, including 300 hectares of irrigated cotton and is in the middle of a Coal Seam Gas (CSG) development that supplies treated water to his farm.
In a short period of time he transformed his farm, which was previously dryland, into an irrigated operation by using circular centre pivots and flood irrigation.
He is fortunate to be one of the CSG’s beneficiaries, providing a constant water supply that is stored on-farm and used to irrigate crops including cotton.
Ashley said efficiency was key to his operation at Columboola Cotton.
“We try to keep it as efficient as possible, including our energy use,” Ashley said.
Ashley narrowed his row configuration from 150cm to 75cm, which lifted average yields, improved water efficiency and effectively shortened the season.
“This meant we could become more water efficient by getting water on and off quicker as well as recirculating any tail waters as efficiently as we can,” Ashley said.
The change in row configuration led to less lodging and a better defoliation which is taking the leaves off before picking – improving the quality of cotton.
Columboola Cotton also focuses on getting the best from farm employees and workers.
“Our strategy is all about empowerment, being clear on expectations and what’s required to do the job. We focus on providing the right resources for our staff to get the job done well,” Ashley said.
“We are very profit focused from a business point of view, but we are also very conscious of the fact that without the time to enjoy the profits that might bring or the health to enjoy that, then there’s not much point. Finding the balance is crucial,” Ashley said.