Steve Black is looking at a bright future as he waves goodbye to almost 100 bales of cotton grown in one of the NT's first commercial crops.
The "dryland" crop was part of an NT industry which is about to explode across the Top End, as more farmers move towards diversifying their expansive properties.
"Considering we only had 50 per cent of our normal rainfall we did really well," Mr Black said.
"We were aiming to break even, and with the lack of rainfall it was touch and go, but we did better than expected."
The first-time cotton grower and owner of Edith Springs Station, just 50km outside of Katherine, has been in the cattle industry for years, but was looking for better returns on farming.
Dryland cotton relies heavily on the NT's rainfall during the wet season and with the help of NT Farming's plant industry developer Andrew Philip, the trial crop has been a success.
"All indications are that the climate here suits growing cotton and gives people the option to diversify their properties," Mr Black said.
"We went in with no experience and succeeded."
More familiar with fattening herds of cattle on their station, Mr Black and his family watched the 23 hectares of cotton carefully as the NT struggled through one of its driest wet seasons in years.
He said it was unlikely he would have taken the leap if he had to rely on irrigation, but the success of the first harvest, yesterday, has bolstered his decision to remain firm in the industry.
Despite strong opposition to cotton crops across the Top End due to the extensive water usage, Mr Black said the "dryland" cotton industry has big potential.
In 2002, Katherine hosted a packed public rally to put a halt to the industry, which led to the ALP of the time banning the crop.
But renewed interest has prompted the Department of Primary Industry to plant crops of GM cotton at its Katherine Research Station in March of this year.
NT Farming's plant industry developer Andrew Philip said the crops just harvested, the other being at Tipperary Station, 160 kilometres south of Darwin, are a "massive step forward" in starting a cotton industry.
"On the back of the success of the first crop there are a lot of upsides," he said.
"We see cotton as the cornerstone crop which would allow development in the Territory and we are looking at about a dozen farmers putting in crops at Christmas time."
Moving forward, Mr Philip is looking at a flourishing industry based off utilising the rainfall during the wet season, and supplementary irrigation when needed.
"Cotton is not a high user of water when it comes to return," he said.
"It is easy for people to say hemp is a better crop, but in fact the return on water per mega-litre is not as good."
With more people welcoming the success of cotton, Mr Philip said he is looking at establishing a cotton gin in the Territory, most likely in Katherine.
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