Luke McKay from Kununurra, Western Australia has been announced as the newest cotton Nuffield Scholar, with support from CRDC and Cotton Australia.
Luke’s research will focus on issues relevant to tropical cotton-growing systems such as double cropping, rotation crops, irrigation methods, staff requirements, machinery requirements, and resource and environmental management.
Luke is farm manager at Kimberley Agricultural Investment (KAI), where he oversees all KAI’s cropping throughout the Ord River valley, north of Kununurra.
KAI were named as the preferred proponent for the Ord expansion in 2012, which has inspired Luke’s interest in further exploring the cropping and irrigation systems best suited to the area. This will focus on finding ways to adjust current systems to allow for cotton production.
“KAI and other Ord farmers are not alone in their ambitions to develop irrigated farming in Northern Australia. Outside the Ord Valley, there are currently operations being undertaken to develop and farm large areas in the Flinders and Gilbert catchments of North Queensland, with cotton in mind to be the base crop,” Luke says.
“We are confident the cotton industry will grow and be profitable in the North, but on my study tour I want to research the best systems to achieve this.”
On his study tour, Luke will travel to Brazil, Canada, China and USA, as well as locally to North Queensland, to learn from other growers in similar farming conditions.