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Students bolled over by cotton success

Posted 7th March 2017

Daniel Kahl’s Nuffield Scholarship will investigate ways to attract the next generation of leaders into farming – and just days before he departed for Europe, North America and New Zealand he shared the dynamics of the cotton industry with students from his old school. The 28 year old business manager of Merced Farming, ‘Glencoe’ Wee Waa and his younger brother Sam, farm operations manager, gave their insights into world’s best-practice cotton production with Year 12 Geography students from The Armidale School last week.

In 1961 their grandfather Paul Kahl and his neighbour Frank Hadley emigrated from the US and purchased ‘Glencoe’, helping kickstart the Australian cotton industry based on their experience in California. However rather than looking back on history, Daniel and Sam focused on the innovations and future of the industry, particularly in striving for constant improvements in the areas of water efficiency and integrated pest management.

The case study of ‘Glencoe’ was the local component of the Geography syllabus unit People and Economic Activity, with the global perspective drawn from a visit to the CSIRO Cotton Research Institute and Australian Cotton Classing Services, a meeting with Executive Director of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation Mr Bruce Finney who briefed them on cutting edge research and development projects, and hearing from a European-based scientist about cotton and climate change. Students also gained insight into corporate agriculture at Auscott, one of only a handful of vertically integrated farms that grows, gins, classes and markets cotton.

“Ninety percent of Australian cotton is exported, with three quarters of that to China. Most schools in the state focus on viticulture for this module in the syllabus, so we are really fortunate to be able to choose cotton for study at both a global and local level,” said student Lukas Cook.

“The trip gave us an incredible insight into the whole industry and how important it is to keep innovating in order to maintain the reputation of Australian cotton as the best in the world. Daniel and Sam are very passionate about attracting the younger generation into the industry to ensure that this continues to be the case,” he said.

Geography teacher Andrew Junge – who had taught the Kahl boys when they were at TAS – said it was a privilege that current students were given such insight.

“’Glencoe’ is a family farming operation that is pushing the boundaries and it was particularly gratifying that Daniel and Sam gave back to their old school by sharing their knowledge and time so generously,” he said.