Cotton LEADS

Why biodiversity matters: Beneficial pests and native trees improve cotton production
March 10, 2022

These small properties that make up biodiversity have a huge impact on Australian cotton production

Behind every cotton crop is a holistic farming system, where a fine balance between production and nature contributes to Australia’s ability to deliver high-quality natural fibres with less environmental impact.

Insects, plants, bacteria, fungi and microorganisms are all part of the system, with biodiversity an important focus for the Australian cotton industry at both farm and landscape scales.

Unfortunately, biodiversity across the globe is being challenged and an estimated one million plant and animal species are under threat.

Australian cotton farmers are helping to improve biodiversity through the industry’s myBMP (Best Management Practices) program which has a chapter addressing natural resource management.

WEBINAR ONE: The Seed that Packs a Punch
WEBINAR TWO: Every Drop Counts
WEBINAR THREE: Farming with Nature: Why Biodiversity Matters

Australia’s cotton farms provide a critical habitat for native plants and animals, and when managed well these areas also provide natural pest control, improved soil health as well as store and sequest carbon.

Healthy native vegetation provides important buffer zones, harbours beneficial insects, reduces soil erosion and helps keep waterways healthy.

Insects and wildlife, such as bats, birds, ants and wasps control other predatory insects that attack cotton plants.

In Australia, more than 17,000 kilometres of rivers and streams pass through cotton farms, and farmers are spending about $68,000 annually to protect threatened species. Recently, Cotton Australia hosted its third webinar Farming with Nature: Why Biodiversity Matters in the webinar series There’s Nothing Conventional About Australian Cotton. A panel of biodiversity experts shared their knowledge and experience about the importance of Australia’s biodiversity and its critical role in the cotton industry.

In Boggabri New South Wales, sixth-generation farmer Andrew Watson, along with his family, have been caring for the environment on his 3600-hectare property since 1965.

The Watson family have removed non-native trees from the property as the falling leaves create a nutrient imbalance in the soil.

The family have developed tree and shrub lines that provide a habitat and highway for native birds, bats and insects that help control pests, and recently joined with Landcare Australia and Australian brand Country Road to plant 3.7 kilometres of trees and natural vegetation along the Namoi River.

By improving biodiversity on-farm, the Watsons have sprayed for insects only four of the past 17 years – with the native beneficial birds, bats and insects taking care of the rest.

To find out more about biodiversity in the Australian cotton industry, watch the replay of Farming with Nature: Why Biodiversity Matters here.

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