We are working to improve sustainability in 9 key areas. The fourth of these is pesticides: careful pesticide use that optimises crop production while having the smallest possible impact on people and the environment.

Why this is a priority?

Pesticides (including insecticides and herbicides) are used in agriculture to control crop losses from pests. Australian cotton growers use pesticides within an integrated approach, where a range of management decisions and resources are called on to reduce pest, weed and disease outbreaks and reduce reliance on herbicides and…

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Authored by Janelle Montgomery, CottonInfo Regional Extension Officer. 

Dr Roger Coles from QUT was recently in the Moree district recording the calls of an important beneficial organism of cotton – the insectivorous (insect-eating) bat.

Insectivorous bats play an important role on cotton farms, controlling insect numbers (including a range of pest species like heliothis moths and beetles) by eating 50 to 70 per cent of their body weight in insects each night…

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We are working to improve sustainability in 9 key areas. The third of these is biodiversity: Improving the condition of biodiversity across the cotton landscape to benefit cotton farms and the environment.

Why this is a priority?

Along with soil and water, biodiversity – the variety of life forms found in an environment including animals, plants, bacteria, fungi and micro-organisms – makes up the natural capital that cotton farms rely on to exist.

For cotton growers, biodiversity provides services including natural pest control and pollination, erosion…

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We are working to improve sustainability in 9 key areas. The second of these is reducing net emissions from greenhouse gases: less emissions, more sequestration.

Why this is a priority?

Like many other agriculture sectors, cotton is both impacted by climate change and can help reduce its effects.

The production of cotton creates greenhouse gases, which are creating extra heat in the global climate system. Cotton farms also store atmospheric carbon dioxide as carbon in soil and vegetation.

While cotton is a relatively small contributor – about 0.2 per cent of…

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We are working to improve sustainability in 9 key areas. The first of these is water: maximising the use of our most precious natural resource by continuously improving efficiency.

Why this is a priority?

While growing more cotton with every drop of available water has been an industry focus for decades – producing a bale of irrigated cotton took 48% less water in 2019 compared to 1992 – there are two very important reasons to continue to improve.

For customers and other stakeholders around the world, the use of water in agriculture is increasingly important. For…

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A recent CRDC project with Griffith University investigated how human and natural activities impact on riparian ecosystems, and their provision of ecosystem services (like natural pest control). The project had a particular focus on determining which management strategies best promote and maintain riparian ecosystem function and services.

The key outcomes were recently published in the handbook: Managing riparian ecosystems for ecosystem services and biodiversity – a handbook for the cotton industry.

The handbook outlines the importance of…

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In line with CRDC’s goal to improve sustainability, research is underway to better understand and minimise the impact of irrigation infrastructure on fish populations in rivers.

Specialists from QLD DAF, with support from CRDC, will evaluate how various fish species interact with different types of irrigation infrastructure. This information will enable measures to be developed to avoid fish being entrained - or caught up - in irrigation systems.

Evaluating the relative impact of different irrigation infrastructure types will identify which are lower impact…

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PLANET. PEOPLE. PADDOCK. is our framework to build on this and make us a global leader in sustainable production.

Sustainability for the Australian cotton industry means running profitable and efficient businesses while creating environmental, economic and social value. It also means being accountable to stakeholders for the industry’s actions and impacts.

The Australian cotton industry has been actively working to do this for over 30 years. In many ways, ‘sustainability’ is just good business practice.

It’s important this existing work is coordinated and…

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With showers and storms across the cotton growing valleys recently, it's important to monitor fields and fallows for summer weeds.

Trial results from Colin McMaster from NSW DPI provide some sobering facts around the benefits of summer weed control.

Colin found that summer weeds can remove valuable soil moisture down to 1.2m and deeper. And for every millimetre of moisture lost, mineral nitrogen is also depleted (for example, saving 75mm of moisture in the profile can provide 50kg of nitrogen/ha to the following winter crop).

It doesn't…

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Sustainability helps us manage what matters on our farms, and what matters to the people who buy our cotton products.

‘Sustainability’ is something that means different things to different people.

So let’s be clear up front why the Australian cotton industry is taking sustainability so seriously.

One of the reasons is that customers and other stakeholders are increasingly asking for evidence of sustainability performance. It makes sense to respond to that demand by showing the industry has a good story in many areas, and is working hard to improve in others.

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