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The challenge

Profit and sustainability, hand-in-hand

Australian cotton farmers are constantly looking to improve profitability through increases in crop yield and fibre quality traits. They are also concerned with the sustainability of their crops in aspects such as crop water use, nutrition and pest management.

In addition, as spinning and weaving machines change, farmers need to grow cotton varieties that produce fibre suitable for these new technologies to remain competitive with synthetic fibres.

We do research in cotton crop management from yield to water use efficiency.

Our response

Transforming the cotton industry

CSIRO's cotton research in Narrabri, Canberra and Geelong is improving the sustainability, productivity, fibre quality and distinctiveness of the Australian cotton crop through development of high-performing varieties, matching crop management strategies, improved post-harvest fibre processing technologies, and development of value-added co-products.

Australia has the highest cotton yields in the world, exporting $2.5 billion of cotton each year. We have proudly contributed to this ranking, not only through our breeding program, but also through improved crop practices that manage pests and their resistance to pesticides while striving to ensure a responsible use of Australia's vital resources such as land and water.

Since we began developing cotton varieties in 1984, enormous improvements have been made. We've reduced Australian growers' reliance on insecticides and improved their water use efficiency, which benefits the growers' bottom line and is good news for the environment and for rural communities.

Currently, 100 percent of the Australian cotton crop is grown from CSIRO bred varieties, which has reduced pesticide use by up to 85 per cent and herbicide use by about 52 per cent.

[CSIRO logo appears with text: We asked CSIRO]

[Image changes to show Graham walking through cotton field and close ups of the cotton plants]

Peter Graham: CSIRO relocated its cotton breeding activities to Narrabri in the early 80's. Cotton Seed Distributors is a small commercial seed company based in Wee Waa.

[Image changes to Peter Graham of Cotton Seed Distributors]

The relationship between the two parties is one of the most important relationships, I believe, in the Australian cotton industry.

[Image changes to show Graham walking through a cotton field, camera pans to show processing buildings on the edge of the field]

[Image changes back to Peter Graham]

Today we are the only commercial company providing the Australian cotton industry with germ plasm.

[Image changes to show blue seeds falling through a hand]

[Image changes to a view inside a warehouse with pallets of seed stacked high]

One hundred percent of the varieties we are selling today come from CSIRO. So any cotton grower who is producing cotton today, is growing CSIRO bred material.

[Image changes to show a man walking across the warehouse floor towards stacks of pallets, with a close up of 20 kilogram bags of cotton seed]

[Image changes back to Peter Graham]

The material that CSIRO has produced contains high yield, high quality, disease tolerance and is widely adaptable. Since the introduction of biotechnology in the CSIRO varieties, we've seen a significant reduction of insecticide use.

[Image changes to a close up of a dragon fly on a cotton plant]

In fact, numbers quoted in the industry, indicate a reduction of up to 85% of the pesticides we were using in the industry.

[Image changes to a close up of blossoms on a cotton plant]

[Camera pans the entire cotton field and processing buildings]

In the middle of one of the worst droughts Australia has experienced, we asked CSIRO to consider a long term relationship with us.

[Image changes to show a greenhouse and view of plants inside]

That relationship was negotiated when the cotton industry was basically on its knees.

[Image changes back to Peter Graham]

Today CSIRO material has been grown in the U.S, South America, South Africa and in Europe. The majority of the success of this variety however has been in the Australian market.

[Image changes to a close up of the greenhouse cotton plants]

[Image changes back to Peter Graham]

As we look across the whole of agriculture, there are a lot of great things CSIRO have done, CSIRO are doing, and I'm sure CSIRO are looking at doing in the future.

[Image changes to another close up of the greenhouse cotton plants]

[Image changes back to Peter Graham]

We are now in a very lucky position, so that the Australian cotton grower can be assured of receiving the varieties that will keep him competitive year in, year out from CSIRO and C.S.D.

[CSIRO logo appears with text: Big ideas start here]

Cotton Seed Distributors on working with us

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