FROM Rolleston in the south to Belyando Crossing in the north, a crowd of 190 joined to celebrate all things agricultural at the Central Highlands Cotton Growers and Irrigators Association annual Irrigation Awards and Dinner Dance held Friday, July 20, in Emerald.
CHCG and IA president Ross Burnett said it was timely in the Australian Year of the Farmer to reflect on the achievements of the association in another year full of challenges for members.
The evening, he said, provided the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the efforts of people who provided valuable support to their industry.
"The winner of the Irrigator Service to the Industry Award, Carl (Neek) Morawitz, is a man who loves his family, his farming, his community and is a true gentleman," Mr Burnett said.
With wife Robyn and four daughters Haddie, Tabitha, Avanell and Clementine, Neek owns and operates dryland farming, grazing and 830ha of flood centre pivot irrigation at Argoon and Windy Hill at Comet.
Mr Burnett said he was recognised for his active engagement at a local and national level.
"Argoon and Windy Hill properties have regularly featured as showcase examples of best management practices," he said.
"Both operations have a demonstrated philosophy of improved performance through innovation."
Graham Dunkley was posthumously awarded the Iain Mackay Memorial Service to the Industry Award, recognising the advice provided to irrigated cotton and grain producers in the Central Highlands through his work at the Queensland Cotton Gin, Emerald.
Nearly 23,000ha of cotton were planted in the Central Highlands this season with the majority irrigated.
"Once established, the crop was off to a magnificent start and growers were buoyed with optimism, as crops looked the best they ever had," Mr Burnett said.
But, he said, the encroachment of mining, the devastating effect of hail, high rainfall and flooding in the Comet region had all taken their toll.
The estimated final yield for the season was 7.4b/ha. Due to prolonged picking and ginning the CHCG and IA was unable to award the highest yield for this season.
Mr Burnett thanked Luana Drummond, Tracey Geddes and the other volunteers from the dinner committee. He also thanked the CHCG and IA executive team and the many sponsors.
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