Cotton Water Use in Australia Improves by 40% New Report Shows
July 29, 2014

A major survey of the water management practices of 40 irrigators from Central Queensland to southern NSW in the three cotton-growing seasons of 2006-07, 2008-09 and 2012-13 have shown a dramatic improvement in water use efficiency across the industry.

NSW Department of Primary Industries irrigation officer Janelle Montgomery, Moree, said the surveys were a benchmark for the industry because they confirmed that there had been a 40 per cent increase in water use efficiency over the past 10 years.

The analysis used the gross production water use index as the indicator of water use efficiency.

Ms Montgomery said the data was particularly robust because it covered both the low-water years from 2006 to 2008 and the high-production season of 2012-13.

“That is the significance of the new data. We have gone from years when there were very low plantings and low prices to a year of full production with plenty of water and improved prices,” she said.

“The 2012-13 data showed how people managed water when their farms were in full production.”

Ms Montgomery said when it came to on-farm water losses, there was a lot of variation between farms.

“On average they were 1.5 megalitres/hectare and ranged from less than half a meg/ha up to 6 meg/ha,” she said.

On the 40 farms for 2012-13 the average yield was 10.9 bales/ha with the range between 7b/ha and 13.7b/ha.

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