The 2022/2023 Faststart Cotton Establishment Award winners have been announced, and it’s an exciting time to be a cotton grower in Australia.
The FastStart Cotton Awards celebrate the excellent work of growers in the early stages of cotton production across the country. They prioritise the need for a strong start to a cotton crop in order to produce a large and healthy yield.
This year’s top prizes were taken out by newer cotton growers, demonstrating the drive and determination of Aussie farmers who are working hard to deliver quality cotton for everyone.
Meet the team
FastStart, the brand behind these prestigious awards, was born from the collaboration between Syngenta and Cotton Seed Distributors. The continued aim of the business is to combine global research, chemistry and technologies to establish strong and healthy growth in Australian cotton plants.
FastStart is constantly testing new technologies and tools to help local growers and increase national yields, providing farmers with up-to-date information so they can expand their businesses. Over the last 10 years, they have contributed to 59 cotton industry research projects
Meet the competition
The Cotton Establishment Awards began in 2018, and have continued to increase in popularity since then. Previous winners have gone on to tour major agricultural enterprises and learn from the best of the best, growing their own cotton farms into wildly successful businesses.
Unlike similar awards, the competition doesn’t focus on farmers with the greatest overall yield, but instead promotes those who thrive in the initial stages of growing, setting themselves up for strong crops later on.
Criteria for judging includes planter uniformity and evenness of the crop, as well as row configurations and seeding rates. Farmers who work hard early on for a high-quality yield are rewarded by the FastStart awards.
According to Syngenta Seedcare Technical Manager Sean Roberts, “there are many growers out there doing a great job of optimising their seedling establishment through the utilisation of Syngenta Seedcare technology that is applied to CSD seed, and the agronomic knowledge brought to light through extensive FastStart research projects.”
“The awards are a great way of doing this, as well as sharing what best practice looks like with other growers.”
Meet the winners
Each year, one grower in both dryland and irrigated growing is awarded the top prize for best overall establishment. The winners each receive a Kincorome toolkit valued at $5000, with several runners-up also receiving prizes.
This year, the major award winners were Neil Schimke from Gatton, Queensland, and Matt Richards from Nobby, Queensland.
While Neil Schimke has only been growing cotton for three seasons, he is already demonstrating great capability and talent. According to the judges, he has shown skill in seed placement and overall preparation, with the first 70 days of growth being the most vital for proper plant establishment.
Matt Richards is a more seasoned grower who has been producing high-yielding cereals for years, however cotton is a new crop for him. According to the judges, he established his cotton crop with a great mix of seedbed preparation, variety choice, and planter calibration in an impressive way.
CSD Extension and Market Development Lead, Peter White, says that the talent in this year’s applicants was outstanding.
“Achieving even establishment of a cotton crop requires attention to detail, which is where our winners this year shine,” he says.
“Not only have they given themselves the best chances of maximizing their yields, they’ve won one of Australia’s most prestigious crop competitions.”
By supporting these farmers, FastStart aims to provide other growers with insight into successful farming practices, helping to improve the industry as a whole.
The strength of this year’s competition highlights the amazing work of farmers across the country, and the strength of Australia’s cotton production. FastStart continues to celebrate those who prove themselves as capable and skilled growers, showing that anyone can be successful through dedication and hard work.
To learn more about agricultural awards in Australia similar to the FastStart Cotton Establishment Award, click here.