Stories: On the Farm
Tom and Charm Arnott - Boggabilla NSW
Continual improvement, achieved by measuring and benchmarking every aspect of their operations.
Fairfield Farming Co Pty Ltd comprises two properties, “Fairfield” and “Tambalaka”, just north of Boggabilla, NSW on the Macintyre River. With a total farm area of 1,430 hectares, in the 2018/19 season, 232 hectares of dry land cotton and 539 hectares of furrow irrigated cotton was grown.
Fairfield Farming Co are the recipients of the 2019 Australian Cotton Grower of the Year Award for their highly disciplined approach to farming and business management that has led to year-on-year growth and success. They are committed to a methodical program of continual improvement, which they achieve by measuring and benchmarking every aspect of their operation.
Charm explained ‘We draw in expert advice and systems including an agronomist and we use Agworld for our field records. An external consultant advises on marketing, while Boyce Chartered accountants do our annual financial statements.’
Ensuring their farming practices are efficient and sustainable whilst achieving an increasingly consistent yield year-after-year are their key goals. They are enthusiastic proponents of myBMP and believe their accreditation clearly demonstrates their commitment to business excellence and to upholding their social license with not just their local community, but to the whole supply chain.
Tom credits the implementation of yield mapping, elevation and grade data generated through a Green Star GPS system, a telemetry weather system, moisture probes and storage gauges that allow for real time data and measuring of the volume of water going on and off the field as key elements of what has enabled them to achieve improved and consistent profitability, along with the enhanced ability to nurture their land.
Tom explained ‘Cotton is planted on a long fallow basis with the aim of only planting fully irrigated cotton with available water. Any remaining area will be planted to dryland and/or semi-irrigated as water becomes available. For the past five years our cotton harvest has averaged an estimated yield 12.70 bales per hectare for the irrigated crop. Results for this season look set to be similar.’ In place is a strict 50/50 crop rotation schedule that incorporates wheat, barley and chickpeas.
This rotation program is focused on achieving constant improvement in soil health and soil sustainability as well as smoothing out the fluctuations in production area, staff workload and ultimately, large fluctuations in financial returns from low water allocation years.