Judges praise SunRice Grower of the Year winner and finalists

Despite launching in a year of tough seasonal conditions, judges of the SunRice Grower of the Year award have enthusiastically praised the standard of entries.

 Michele Groat, C19 Grower of the Year judge, remarked how well winners Peter and Renee Burke integrate business and agronomic principles including soil testing to achieve their stated goals.

 “They have skillfully used the temporary water market to secure water at minimal cost and employed off-farm expertise to good effect,” Ms Groat said.

 Peter Burke said precision agriculture had underpinned a big jump in water efficiency and productivity.

 “Our laser levelled bankless channel irrigation layout with Padman Stops ensures high flow rates of water when irrigating cereals and drill-sown rice crops,” Mr Burke said.

 “PA has improved our equipment efficiency and provided data to help make management decisions.

 “We regularly grade our paddocks to remove variation and ensure uniformity of crop development and irrigation which helps with management.”

 The Burkes adopted drill sowing of rice in the C18 season and were able to reduce water use from 13.8ML/ha in C17 season to 10.9ML/Ha in the C18 season by moving away from conventional dry broadcast sowing.

 Double cropping maximises their productivity per hectare and increases water productivity. A short season rice variety is grown directly after winter cereals are harvested, and subsequent winter cereals are sown on the residual moisture after a rice crop.


Finalists for the SunRice Grower of the Year Award included Steve and Jacalyn Cremasco, Frank and Lynda Quarisa, Ian Payne and Sharon Breed; and John Hawkins.

 Steven and Jacalyn Cremasco grow rice, cotton, winter cereals and run sheep on 1480ha of irrigation farm at Widgelli, NSW. The Cremasco’s excellent focus and understanding of markets with their flexible management gives them the ability to act on business opportunities as they arise.

 Frank and Lynda Quarisa grow rice and winter cereals on 270ha irrigation farm at Bilbul, NSW. The Quarisa’s agronomic rotation and effective management is a good showcase of the advantages and ease of simplicity to consistently return high yielding crops.

 John Hawkins has a 1400ha farm in Finley, NSW, where he runs sheep and cattle and grows Koshi rice, winter cereals, pulses and canola. John Hawkins has exceptional integration of his livestock into his farming system, and value adds to his grain growing enterprises by lotfeeding livestock.

 Ian Payne and Sharon Breed grow rice, cotton, winter cereals and run wethers on 1750 ha of irrigation farm in Coleambally, NSW. The incorporation of natural resource management into the farming business was a commendable example of how productive and profitable farming can co-exist alongside environmental management.