ADAMA Chris Lehmann Trust Young Cotton Achiever of the Year

William (Bill) Back, Narrabri

Bill Back is the farm manager of Auscott’s Namoi Valley operation and is also an experienced, well established agronomist. In his role at Auscott Bill is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the 9000-hectare cotton farm and is focused on remaining at the forefront of cotton development. “The most rewarding part of my role is harvesting the crop,” he says. “You work all summer and make management decisions and then it’s very exciting to get to the end of the crop and see what you’ve achieved.”

Bill has demonstrated a unique ability to take advantage of the cotton industry’s developments in variety, design, technology, technique and operations to achieve performance goals. He is always looking for ways to implement new technology and decision support tools to boost the precision of production systems, resulting in better yield, fiber quality and resource management. “Increased yield and quality is pushing the intensity of production in growing cotton,” he says. “Machinery is becoming more sophisticated to do this, and the timing of operations is becoming tighter. Agronomy, industry, equipment manufacturers and employers will continue to evolve to provide the cotton industry with an increasingly technical and precise service.”

As well as running a large farm, Bill also contributes to the broader industry as a professional agronomist, inspiring education, mentoring and promoting an optimistic image of the cotton industry. He has been involved in various on-farm programs that are making important contributions to the constant improvement and management of cotton. He actively works with research organisations to facilitate on farm trials, while also hosting field days. With the Australian Cotton Research Institute next door to Auscott’s Narrabri operation, Bill frequently welcomes visitors and industry groups onto the farm, including Monsanto groups, Tocal College students, researchers from ACRI, local school students and students from the University of New England’s cotton course.

Bill is deeply passionate about enabling people to experience cotton farming and agronomy first hand. In recent years Bill has hosted Cotton Australia’s Fashion on the (Cotton) Field, Sydney University’s annual Soil Science field trip for the past seven years, the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education students and work experience students. He also runs tours with cotton industry veteran Jack Murray, helping groups of up to fifty retirees to understand cotton and the industry.

While at university, Bill completed an Honours research project on cotton in 2006. He also completed the Cotton Leaders Course in 2017, and was a participant in the Cotton Seed Distributor Ambassador Program. Bill is a professional member and board director for Crop Consultants Australia. Currently, he is the Communications Director, working closely with the executive team to prepare news articles for various industry publications relating to existing and emerging issues for the agronomy profession and the cotton industry. Bill is also leading the Crop Consultants Australia Advisory Committee for the Cotton Pest Management Guide.

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