Feeling the heat down under with the cotton club
C&G Engineering managing director William Ganley tells the Farming Independent about a year spent working in Australia
After spending a year Down Under, William Ganley has spoken to the Farming Independent about his experiences on the other side of the world.
William, of Kildare-based firm C&G Engineering, talked about the farming scene in Australia and his description of cotton growing and harvesting was particularly interesting.
Work in Ireland was non-existent for most quantity surveying graduates in 2008. So myself, my brother Philip and three pals, John Mc Donnell, John Behan and Colin Garry, packed our bags and set off for Australia. After a couple of weeks of sampling life in Sydney we set off into the outback in search of work on the farms. Over the course of the next year, we ended up on different farms across Australia.
I worked on eight, travelling through rural Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
We didn't really know what to expect and the scale of the farming operations was a real eye-opener.
The climate also meant that the crops were also different to what we see in Ireland. Wheat was very popular with the odd bit of barley and oats being grown, but in certain areas cotton would be the main crop. Cotton is a crop most Irish people wouldn't be familiar with as it needs a very hot climate and a lot of water to grow.
The cotton cycle starts in July, with preparation of the ground for sowing. Rather than ploughing the land it is cultivated with a rigid tine cultivator to create rows 1m apart and 0.3m deep. Sowing takes place in September, and because the ground is so dry the seeder pumps water into the ground along with the seed in order for it to germinate.
The cotton plant needs constant water and over the next six months the main work on the farm is manual irrigation which is a hard, labour-intensive process.