Cotton growers cut water use in half

In 25 years cotton growers have cut water use in half

Cropping
EFFICIENCY GAIN: Cotton growers have almost halved the water needed to grow one bale of cotton over 25 years.

EFFICIENCY GAIN: Cotton growers have almost halved the water needed to grow one bale of cotton over 25 years.

Aa

Cotton growers have almost halved the water needed to grow one bale of cotton over 25 years.

Aa

THE cotton industry is trumpeting the latest research confirming that over 25 years cotton growers have almost halved the water needed to grow one bale of cotton.

The research reveals water usage had fallen from 1.43 megalitres a bale in 1995 to just 0.74ML/bale in 2020.

Now growers have even greater results in sight, wanting to reach a benchmark target of 0.71ML/bale by 2024.

The remarkable change has been driven primarily through improvements in irrigation infrastructure and management efficiencies, underpinned by research and development.

The current benchmarking research project has been led by NSW DPI, supported by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, since 2006 with in-depth water productivity benchmarking occurring in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2018.

The research combined the in-depth benchmarking with all other available water use data going back to 1992, revealing the impressive findings.

The research reveals water usage had fallen from 1.43 megalitres a bale in 1995 to just 0.74ML/bale in 2020.

Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay said the goal is part of the cotton industry's current sustainability framework 'Planet. People. Paddock.'

"We recognise sustainability is integral to the industry's future and this framework identifies the key environmental, economic and social sustainability areas for further improvement, investment and commitment," Mr Kay said.

"Cotton is often misrepresented when it comes to water use. These findings, validated by an independent third-party research organisation, provide the most up-to-date assessment of the performance of cotton over the last 25 years."

CRDC, in partnership with the Commonwealth Government and cotton growers, has funded research and development to improve and monitor water use efficiency for decades.

CRDC executive director Ian Taylor said the latest findings were further evidence of the improvements the industry has made.

"CRDC's role is to invest in world-leading research and development, delivering tangible outcomes for cotton growers and the wider community," Dr Taylor said.

"These latest findings demonstrate Australian cotton growers are committed to being leaders in environmental sustainability, and continuously improving their water use efficiency."

The calculations took into account all the water used on the farm to produce the crop.

This included all water coming onto the farm from rivers and bores, all rain falling directly on the crop as well as harvested rainfall runoff, plus all soil moisture used by the crop. It also considered all water lost through evaporation and seepage during storage in dams and delivery to the field.

NSW DPI Agriculture Research Officer and project lead David Perovi said considering all the water used to grow a bale was the gold standard for determining water productivity.

"You can't just look at the water applied to the field," Dr Perovi said.

"You also need to include the rainfall to put in context, especially when looking at changes over time. Including evaporation is also important as it shows the real cost (in terms of water) to grow the crop.

"It has been very pleasing to see just how well the industry is performing. Even after the significant improvements in water use efficiency that were achieved between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, growers keep getting better and better production out of finite water resources."

MORE READING: 'Ag gross value set to break $70 billion mark for first time'.

MORE READING: 'DCQ's prickly acacia treatments sending weed on a downward trajectory'.

MORE READING: 'Electric vehicles to impact biofuel demand'.

Want daily news highlights delivered to your inbox? Sign up to the Queensland Country Life newsletter below.

The story Cotton growers cut water use in half first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by