Customer stories

Pumas play their part in cotton efficiency

21 Aug 2014

James Kahl’s family has been farming cotton in the Namoi Valley in northwest NSW since 1961. When his parents Paul and Jean Kahl emigrated from California, they were some of the earliest pioneers of Australia’s cotton industry.

Australia is now the second largest exporter of cotton in the world, after the US, but our cotton growers are under increasing pressure to grow more with less water, less labour and fewer resources.

This drive for efficiency has seen James recently invest in three new Case IH tractors for Merced Farming, his 4,000 hectare property near Wee Waa. He has two Puma 210s and one Puma 195. 

“Cotton prices are not keeping up with the cost of inputs, so we’ve had to change a lot on the property to be more efficient,” James says. “You think you’ve done everything possible, but there’s always more to be done.”

Merced Farming produces around 10,000 bales of cotton each year, as well as wheat or corn on rotation, and also grazes cattle and sheep.

“Over the last 15 to 20 years, we’ve cut the tillage amount by half – from cultivating the land 14 or 15 times to just seven,” explains James. “We’ve also decreased the amount of insect and spray control by about 80%, and our water use is more efficiency thanks to land levelling and irrigation cycling. We also used to have 20 employees – now we’re down to 12.”

​“I was looking for a good balance between horsepower and the weight of the tractor – I need a lighter weight vehicle to avoid compaction.”

So when it came to choosing new tractors, efficiency was a big factor. And higher horsepower was not necessarily the solution, as they can cost more to run.

“I was looking for a good balance between horsepower and the weight of the tractor – I need a lighter weight vehicle to avoid compaction.”

James says the Puma range from Case IH represented good value for the horsepower. “It will do everything we need to do except the really heavy jobs, where we will use our Case IH Magnums.

“The Puma 210s (213hp) will be good mid-range tractors for the property, and can take on some of the ‘lighter heavy work’, while the Puma 195 (197hp) is a good value smaller tractor,” he explains. 

The other key benefit for James and his team is the ease of use.

“They’re not overcomplicated with electronics – so if anything happens to go wrong we can just fix it in the field without needing to call in a computer expert!”

He says he’ll be putting his new Pumas to work on all types of crops. “They can handle some of the tilling and seed bed preparation, as well as fertiliser application, cultivation, mulching, and any type of crop planting.”

James’ sons are returning to the family business, and the Kahl family legacy is likely to live on. “We’ve had more good years than bad, and we’ll be here cotton farming for as long as it continues to rain,” says James. 

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