As this year’s cotton-picking season winds down, many growers are already planning for the next season. For some growers, this may involve the purchase of a cotton picker.


Whether they are purchased new or second-hand, investing in a cotton picker is a substantial decision. There are various factors to consider when purchasing a picker, as highlighted by Mark Vayro, Business Development Manager with specialist agricultural insurer Achmea Australia.


“A new cotton picker is one of the largest capital investments you can make as a cotton grower. Therefore, it is important to consider whether the investment is right for your agribusiness,” said Mark.


“Essentially, the need for an on-farm cotton picker will depend on the size of your operation. The picking window is very short and as a single-purpose machine, a picker will be used intensively but only for a short period of time each season.”


Beyond the actual purchase price, growers also need to consider the operational costs, staff training and ongoing maintenance.


“After undertaking a review of costs against your budget, and verifying that your operations can support the purchase, having an on-farm cotton picker can bring several benefits. Primarily, you will have the ability to harvest when you want to harvest. That is, when the quality of your cotton is at its peak, or when the weather is most favourable,” said Mark.


“It also means you can avoid unforeseen delays in harvesting. As with many types of farming, delays to picking your crop can significantly reduce its quality. These delays can be costly and impact your cash flow. Should your harvest be delayed, you may also find your bales get a later run in the cotton gin, which may delay its sale and shipping.”


“If you decide to proceed with the purchase of a cotton picker, protecting your investment through risk mitigation and adequate insurance is critical,” Mark said.


Typically, insurance policies require maintaining your farming equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications and taking precautions to minimise the risk of property loss.


With the picker standing idle for many months of the year, Mark offers his tips for storing and maintaining your picker during the off-season:

  • Choose a designated location to store your picker that is secure, clean and vermin-proof.
  • Check for evidence of rodent activity around the shed and the picker itself. Rats can cause significant damage to electrical wiring, which in turn poses a risk of electrocution or fire. Furthermore, many insurance policies typically have exclusions specifying damage caused by vermin.
  • Before purchase, consider whether your shed has storage capacity to accommodate the picker, many of which stand over four metres high.
  • Store the picker away from potential hazards, such as hay bales, combustible materials or other environmental hazards.
  • Start your picker up at least once a month and prepare for each cotton harvest in advance, with a full clean and maintenance check of your machine.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on board your picker and service them regularly.
  • Consider installing a battery isolator to help protect against power surges, which can cause personal injury, fire or damage to your machine.
  • Pickers have large fuel tanks, holding close to a thousand litres of fuel. Post-harvest, consider the risks associated with storing your picker with a full tank and look at removing excess fuel.


Specialist agricultural insurer Achmea Australia offers insurance for cotton pickers as part of their All-in-One Farm Pack. To request a quote, contact Achmea Australia on 1800 724 214 or go to


Achmea Australia supports Cotton Australia members through an insurance reward for growers who are certified in the myBMP program. Resources relating to the safe operation and maintenance of cotton pickers, along with information about the myBMP program, are available at


Insurance issued by Achmea Schadeverzekeringen N.V. (Achmea) ABN 86 158 237 702 AFSL 433984. The information in this document is general advice only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs (your personal circumstances). This means any advice may not be appropriate for your circumstances. Before using this information to decide whether to purchase the insurance policy, you will need to consider the appropriateness of any general information or advice we give you and how it relates to your specific situation to ensure the insurance cover meets your needs and the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination (TMD) available from the ‘Downloads’ section of our website For feedback and complaints, visit To view Achmea Australia’s privacy statement, visit Achmea Australia does not warrant that the information contained herein is accurate, reliable, complete or up to date, and, to the fullest extent permitted by law, disclaims all liability of Achmea Australia and its Associates for any loss or damage suffered by any person by reason of the use by that person of, or their reliance on, any information contained in this document or any error or defect in on this document, whether arising from the negligence of Achmea Australia or its Associates or otherwise.