Stories: On the Farm
Dr. Stuart Gordon - Melbourne, Australia
Supply Chain Innovation
While Australian farmers excel at growing high-quality cotton, offshore processing makes it very difficult to trace or monitor Australian cotton as it moves through the value chain. Dr. Stuart Gordon’s work has been in pursuit of improving the knowledge, access and quality of Australian cotton as it is transformed from fibre to fabric.
Working in the industry since 1990, Stuart joined the CSIRO Division of Textile and Fibre Technology in 1999. In this position, he developed a post-harvest cotton research team which has now grown to 12 full-time employees. The team provides a means of communication between growers, ginners and spinners to improve the performance of Australian cotton. It also allows CSIRO’s breeding and research to reflect the demands of the textile industry.
The prevalence of synthetic fibres in modern textiles has been challenging for cotton producers, and Stuart has taken significant steps to help address this. After conducting a survey of spinning mills worldwide, Stuart established the requirements and benchmarks sought in cotton. In response to this, Cottonscope was developed in cooperation with Dr. Geoff Naylor. Revolutionising the industry standard of measurement, Cottonscope is a fully automated instrument for determining maturity and fineness in cotton fibres, characteristics that previously could not be evaluated independently. Immature fibres that are weaker and less efficient at taking up dyes can then be avoided.
Stuart’s work continues with the development of Cottonspec – yarn quality prediction software developed in conjunction with Dr. Shouren Yang. It has been embraced in Chinese spinning mills to advise the ideal cotton mix for achieving particular yarn counts. This has broadened the Australian market by showing the merit of Australian premium upland cotton as a substitute for the more expensive pima cotton varieties used for high-quality yarn.