Stories: On the Farm
Janelle Montgomery - Gwydir Valley, NSW, Australia
More Crop Per Drop
Australian-grown cotton is considered to be some of the world’s most water efficient. Large amounts of research, the practice of planting optimal varieties, implementation of technology and new on-farm practices have resulted in a 42% increase in water productivity over the past decade. Researcher Janelle Montgomery has been at the forefront of these developments, championing water use efficiency and improving the awareness and understanding of growers, researchers and consultants.
Based in Moree, New South Wales, Janelle’s involvement in the industry spans almost 20 years in a number of roles. As a Research Fellow with UNE, she led a water quality, soil salinity and birdlife study on 16 farms of the Gwydir Valley, in which 42,000 birds from 45 species were observed, indicating the abundance of wildlife on cotton farms.
Janelle’s passion for cotton is clear through her desire to share her research with the industry. She has linked with grower and industry groups on a raft of projects, including research into surface irrigation optimisation, infrastructure utilisation and possibilities of alternate irrigation systems. She is currently the NSW Technical Specialist for Water Use Efficiency with CottonInfo, available to provide in-depth analysis and information to benefit all growers.
Conducting benchmarking and water budgeting workshops in northern NSW, Janelle encourages growers to utilise the available online tools to make precise water optimisation decisions. Janelle and her team measured water use on farms from Emerald to the Murrumbidgee to establish Australian irrigation use benchmarks. These standardised calculations are also used to show improvements in the industry’s irrigation efficiency. The Gross Production Water Use Index (bales per megalitre) is an excellent indication of this improvement, with Australian cotton growers improving their water use efficiency by 3-4% per year since 2003.
Janelle is committed to ensuring a progressive future for cotton through water use efficiency, and her enthusiasm for research has made her an expert in her field.