Cotton and Water – An Agricultural Perspective
April 4, 2014

The facts about cotton’s water use presented at the 2014 International Cotton Conference Bremen

Without question fresh water resources are over allocated in many parts of the world where demand exceeds sustainable supply. Because cotton is a drought and heat tolerant crop, it is often grown in areas where water is limited. This can create the misperception that cotton requires excessive amounts of irrigation, but in reality, less than 50% of the world’s cotton relies on irrigation. However, irrigation does stabilize and increase agricultural productivity, resulting in growing consensus that water shortages will be directly linked to unstable and decreased food supplies. This places importance on a crop like cotton because it has the ability to provide cash income through fibre, and add to the world’s total feed and food supply – all while growing in harsh, water limited conditions. Furthermore, advances in science and technology will allow cotton’s water use efficiency to continue improving, allowing it to make even better use of limited water resources.

Dr. Edward Barnes, Senior Director, Agricultural and Environmental Research, presented the facts about cotton’s water use at the International Cotton Conference Bremen, March 19 – 21, 2014.

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Picture details: LEPA – Low Energy Pressure Application system dropping water into the cotton canopy. Cotton grows in the residue of a cover crop that builds organic matter, decreasing runoff, and enhances the soil’s ability to hold waste

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