AUSCOTT Moree has been doing their bit to assist the cotton industry in becoming more water efficient and sustainable through on farm irrigation trials.
The Gwydir Valley Irrigation association (GVIA) conducted row configuration trials at two locations in the Gwydir valley, Auscott “Watervale” and “Keytah”, Moree, during the 2014-2015 cotton season.
Auscott agronomists Simon Dunlop and Jake Cutcliffe presented the trial results at the Gwydir Valley field day on February 12.
The trials were designed to measure water-use efficiency and yield potential of 30, 40, 60 and 80 inch row spacings.
The different configurations were watered as required throughout the season, with the aim of maximising yield.
It was concluded the 30 inch configuration had potential to increase yields, whilst decreasing water use.
40 inch row spacings are considered an “industry standard”, however, the smaller 30 inch configuration trialed at “Keytah” yielded 8 per cent better.
At both trial sites, the smaller row spacing also used three per cent less water during the season than the standard configuration.
“Improving water use efficiency is incredibly important, and the 30 inch system showed a lot of potential to do that last season,” Mr Dunlop said.
Both the 60 inch and 80 inch configurations also showed great yield potential however, water use efficiency was lower than the industry’s standard configuration in these trials.
When the 80 inch configuration was watered to maximise yield, there was a yield reduction of between 35 to 37 per cent in comparison to the 40 inch configuration.
The 40 inch configuration was 20 to 24 per cent more water use efficient than the larger spacing.
The 60 inch spacing was similar, with yield reductions between 21 to 23 per cent and water use efficiency six to 16 per cent less than the 40 inch spacing.
Mr Dunlop said the water use efficiency would have been improved with the wider row spacings if there had been more in crop rain during the season as the wider configurations take better advantage of rainfall than the narrower rows.
“Despite the lower water use efficiency, we were very impressed with the yield potential of both the wider row spacings,” he said.
“They are definitely still a viable option, particularly in low water years’.
When considering the results of the trial Mr Dunlop said there were indications that water use efficiency could be improved when using 30 inch row spacings.
Although the findings were promising, further trials and data is needed before conclusions can be made.
To strengthen data, the trials are being replicated this year and Mr Dunlop said if they have enough water, they’ll also be conducted next year.