A trial cotton crop alongside an established Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program will potentially have multiple benefits for new growers Andrew and Raneece Lerch (pictured with her dog Hank).

The vegetable farming duo are trialling 30 hectares of cotton across their Lockyer Valley farms this season.

With paddocks normally cropless during summer, Andrew – a fourth-generation farmer - said the machine-picked cotton crop would provide an income when harvest workers were in high demand.

“We have been looking for an ideal summer crop that fits in with our vegetable rotations, and after seeing the Brimblecombe family grow cotton last year, we thought it could be a good fit for our farms too,” Andrew said.

“With cotton having the genetically modified, pest resistant technology embedded in the seed, it should allow us to manage any weeds and improve the soil for our winter vegetable crops.

“It has also been challenging to get vegetable harvest workers given the coronavirus and border situation, and this cotton crop will allow us to produce an income with less labour.”

Andrew said his father’s IPM program – including releasing beneficial insects - would complement this season’s cotton crop.

“Releasing the bees and beneficial insects has reduced the amount of chemical spraying we would normally use on our vegetable crops,” Andrew said.

“We hope that a combination of the IPM and the cotton crop will help improve our natural environment as well as soil fertility,” he said.

Andrew’s crop was planted in October with harvest due in April.

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