DRYLAND cotton farmers have banded together to form their own growers' association, aimed at research and development toward dryland farming systems.
The Dryland Cotton Consulta-tive Group is pushing for three projects to be taken up by the Cotton Research and Develop-ment Corporation (CRDC), focusing on planting machinery, cover cropping and farming systems research with the use of hormone growth control.
After more than 50 years of cotton in Australia, little research has been directed at dryland cotton, meaning the dryland growers use irrigated varieties and modify irrigated methods to suit their country.
The group has about 10 people on the committee, representing hundreds of growers from all valleys in NSW and Queensland.
Ian Gourley, "Blue Hills", Narrabri, said having dryland-specific research could increase the crop's size and improve the quality of the cotton.
"The real growth opportunity for cotton in Australia is in the dryland areas where vast tracts of land can be switched from sorghum to cotton if we get the research right so it's now time to focus our research on the dryland industry," Mr Gourley said.
The cover cropping trial would look at improving water infiltration over summer fallow months by studying a wide variety of cover options, from legumes to cereals.
"One of the issues we face in our dryland cotton systems is the need for pupae control, which we accept because it's a part of the Monsanto licensing agreement," Mr Gourley.
"We need to work out a way that we can do the pupae busts but still maintain the soil moisture."
Varieties specifically bred for dryland cotton, including conventional varieties other than Bollgard, would further improve the crop's potential.