Cubbie doubles cotton planting

Plans to expand to 26,000ha: Cubbie Station now has about
16,500ha planted with cotton, but under an aggressive corporate plan
for expansion, it aims to increase that to 26,000ha by September next
year.

500,000ML storage capacity: Cubbie Station manager John Grabbe
said the station had an allocation of 150,000 megalitres a year from
nearby Balance River – part of the Murray-Darling system – and the
flats around it, but it had storage capacity of 500,000 megalitres
through a series of interlocking dams.

Operation within allocation: “What you do with the water is more
important than the volumes you have,” he said. “We operate completely
within the allocation we have from the Queensland Government.

Water would evaporate anyway: “A lot of people criticise us for
diverting water from the floodplains, but all of the water we divert
into our property would otherwise evaporate and be lost. If Cubbie
didn’t exist, the same amount of water would be going downstream,”
Grabbe added.

Plans for better crop rotation: Grabbe said the company could
manage the expansion without extra water by making efficiencies –
better water storage and better crop rotation.

Reduced rate of evaporation: The main measure the station has
taken to improve its water use has been to store it in larger and
deeper dams, so the rate of evaporation – important in a hot climate –
is reduced.

Dams as deep as 8m: In the area where Cubbie operates, the top
1.7m of the water in any dam is lost through evaporation. The station
dams have a depth of up to 8m, far deeper than most of the dams in the
surrounding area.

$440m public company: Cubbie has recently joined another cotton
operation at nearby St George to form the Cubbie Group, an unlisted
public company chaired by former Queensland treasurer Keith De Lacy,
with assets of $440 million.

The Australian, 23/2/2006, p. 2

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