Australia’s cotton industry is considered the most water-efficient in the world. Water use efficiency has doubled in the last 25 years, with plans to double it again in the next decade. Appropriate varieties, a massive res
Quick Water Facts
Australia’s cotton growers produce three times the world’s average yields, in other words they’re three times more efficient than the average
Cotton uses less water than rice, maize, soybeans and many vegetable crops
Cotton is planted annually and is only grown when there’s water available. So for example, during a drought, very little cotton is planted.
If cotton was banned there would not be one more drop of water in our rivers. Farmers would simply grow something else with their water allocation.
Cotton is a dessert plant, ideally suited to Australian conditions
It varies from year to year, but a significant portion of Australia’s cotton crop is rain grown (or dryland).
Cotton Growers Are Water Savers
Water is the most valuable resource a cotton farmer has. Every drop counts and growers and researchers are continually looking at news ways to improve efficiency.
The industry’s research has shown there are five key areas that cotton growers should focus on:
Maximising storage and distribution efficiency (on-farm dams and channels).
Maximising application efficiency (putting water on the crop)
Achieving uniform application (putting water on the crop)
Monitoring water use and calculating efficiencies (while the crop is growing).
Alternative irrigation systems (where applicable) such as overhead sprinklers, bankless channels and drip.
Why Do Farmers Choose to Grow Cotton?
Cotton growers are farmers with a license to access water under a strict set of rules. At the beginning of each season, they choose to grow particular crops based on a number of factors: water availability, commodity price, ability to sell the crop and overall cost of production.
Farmers are business people and so they choose to grow the crop that gives them the best financial return on their water. While this can change from year to year, about 1,500 farmers in NSW and Queensland choose to grow cotton (usually in rotation with other crops such as wheat, barley, corn, sunflowers, sorghum and chickpeas).