High Commissioner Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri visits cotton farms in Dubbo, NSW

Canberra: Pakistani High Commissioner to Australia Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri this week visited cotton farms in Dubbo, NSW.

“Glad to visit cotton farms in Dubbo, NSW. Discussed opportunities to further enhance cooperation between Pakistan and Australia in the agricultural sector,” he posted on X.

Interestingly, a cotton farm west of Dubbo in regional New South Wales has effectively halved its annual diesel fuel consumption, with the installation of what is being dubbed Australia’s largest solar hybrid irrigation pump.

The system, backed by 500kW of solar panels covering one hectare of land, was installed by a Tamworth based company at the Narromine property of cotton farmer Jon Elder.

The farm, called Waverleigh, is one of the biggest irrigators in the region, with more than 550 hectares of groundwater irrigated cotton, and 1000 hectares of wheat and other grains on un-irrigated land.

The around $900,000 cost of the hybrid pump – a quarter of which was funded through the NSW Rural Assistance Authority’s farm innovation fund – is expected to pay for itself in under five years, through halving the farm’s annual $500,000 diesel fuel bill.

It will also provide a nice little side earner of around $100,000 over the next five years from the sale of large-scale renewable energy certificates.

Farm owner Elder described the shift to solar powered irrigation as “a cold-hearted business decision,” but said the family was also really excited about the environmental benefits.

The company behind the hybrid pump, ReAqua, is excited about the product’s commercial prospects.

ReAqua, a solar pumping business originally established in Adelaide, was bought up six months ago by Tamworth-based Australian Irrigation Investments (AII), which had also previously acquired Gunnedah pumping equipment specialist Lambert and Torrens.

The brothers behind AII – Ben, Jock and Tim Lee – had noticed growing demand for an irrigation system capable of “seamlessly blending diesel and solar power.”