Australian cotton produced with less water, land, insecticide

COTTON is being produced with 48 per cent less water, 34pc less land, and 97pc less insecticides than it was three decades ago.

The 2019 Australian Cotton Sustainability Report released on Monday also revealed potential further improvements which will help achieve the industry’s aim of being a global leader in sustainable cotton production.

Cotton Australia chief executive officer Adam Kay said growers have been quietly improving their sustainability for decades and should take a moment to celebrate the industry’s collective achievements.

“Having said that, the report also highlights areas the industry can do better in, such as the need to make greater efforts to reduce carbon emissions, improve nitrogen use efficiency, increase on-farm carbon sequestration in soil and native vegetation, and improve farm safety,” Mr Kay said.

“We know if we get sustainability right it can reduce risk, improve efficiency, and grow or maintain markets – and ultimately underpin our work to hand the next generation thriving farms and a successful industry.”

Using data in the report as a baseline, growers and other stakeholders will now be consulted in coming months on sustainability targets the industry should aim for in the next five to 10 years, he said.

Cotton Research and Development Corporation R&D investment general manager Allan Williams said the industry would now use report data to set five-year targets for 2024 and 2029, and plans to achieve those targets.

“To be a global leader in sustainable cotton production, we need to set bold targets, ensure our research and adoption program can get us to those targets, and frequently and transparently share progress with stakeholders,” Mr Williams said.

“We will be consulting with growers and other stakeholders inside and outside the industry on setting the right level of ambition in our sustainability targets.

“The industry can point to long-term trends of significant improvement in areas it has focused on in the past, and we will draw on this experience to transform our performance in other areas in the future,” Mr Williams said.

The 2019 Australian Cotton Sustainability Report is part of the industry’s new ‘Planet. People. Paddock.’ sustainability framework. It is designed to guide the industry to set ambitious targets, coordinate a whole-of-industry strategy to achieve these targets, and engage effectively with stakeholders on actions and progress.