Entrepreneur: Jon Elder, Narromine

Jon Elder is a primary producer of cotton and wheat from the Narromine region who has implemented the latest in technology to enable the future efficiency of his 122-year-old family farm.

The Elder family has been farming in the district since 1897. The original owner actually broke down when travelling by horse and cart between Narromine and Dubbo which led to buying land close to the current farm’s location.

What started as a sheep and stock farm has evolved into an irrigated and dry land cropping operation. Installation of Australia’s largest solar diesel hybrid pumping system is used for irrigating cotton and helps to reduce diesel consumption, lower operating costs and produce green energy. The system has captured significant public attention from farmers, conservation groups and the media.

University of NSW Conservation Biology students have also been invited to tour the farm to better understand the sustainability debate from a cotton farmer’s viewpoint.

In production terms, once the crops are harvested, they are sold through distribution channels into the Asia-Pacific region.

The cotton is used to make clothing such as shirts and jeans and bedding while the cotton seed is used to feed stock.

Situated 25 minutes from Narromine, the property is in a prime location with bushland surrounding the homestead and clay soils making it perfect for irrigation and farming.

The enterprise is a family operation so business decisions tend to be made around the dining table.

The aim for the years ahead is to continue improving, with progressive farming techniques, building on the past and adapting for the future, including use of renewables.