NSW DPI research in the Cotton Catchment Communities CRC

The Cotton Catchment Communities Cooperative Research Centre (Cotton CRC) is a research cooperative body set up by the Federal Government. The Cotton CRC has its headquarters at the Australian Cotton Research Institute in Narrabri in NSW and it is funded until 2012. The Federal Government has committed $26.5 million to the Cotton CRC, supported by pledges of $36.8 million in cash and $74.8 million in-kind from CRC partners. The NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) is a major participant of the CRC (with an 11.76% share). Other participants include Australian Cotton Growers Research Association Ltd, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Cotton Seed Distributors Ltd, CSIRO, Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Department of Agriculture Western Australia, University of New England, University of New South Wales, University of Sydney and University of Technology-Sydney.

The major goal of the Cotton CRC is to undertake a multi-disciplinary and cutting edge research program to develop and have cotton and grain growers adopt world’s best practice in environmental and catchment management. The establishment of the Cotton CRC will enable the cotton industry to undertake collaborative world-class research, education and commercialization activities to provide innovative knowledge that will create economic prosperity, integrated with the sustainable use of natural resources, for the benefit of the Australian cotton industry, regional communities and the nation.

Further information about the Cotton Catchment Communities CRC is available at www.cottoncrc.org.au

The key contact for NSW DPI in the CRC is Dr Robert Mensah. He is Science Leader and Principal Research Scientist at the Centre of Excellence for Cotton & Pulses & Oilseed Improvement at Narrabri.

Tel: +61 2 6799 1500
Fax: +61 2 6799 1503

CCC CRC programs

The CRC has 5 programs. They are:

  • Farm
  • Catchment
  • Community
  • Product
  • Adoption

The Farm

The farm program focuses on:

  • Integrated crop protection - “the good guys and the bad guys”. Improved integrated management systems for cotton pests (insects, weeds and diseases), that are, profitable, sustainable and demonstrably less reliant on chemical inputs.
  • Water use efficiency “more crop per drop” - through better measurement, application, evaluation and management.
  • Plants and soils “growing the crop” - Enhanced understanding of plant growth, soil physical and biological health, and soil productivity leading to development of farming systems that promote improved crop productivity, high fibre quality and sustainable productive soils.
  • Precision farming “smart farming” - Development and uptake of technologies that improve input application and efficiency, including precision agriculture with links to decision support tools and simulation models.
  • New tools and technologies “improving the tool kit” - The development and commercialization of innovative technologies to provide solutions to new and existing production and resource management problems.

The focus of the farm program is expected to result in:

  • increase in cotton yields of 20% and reduced costs of 10% through optimized use of inputs by 2010;
  • reduced pesticide use by 50% overall through IPM and Area Wide Management;
  • a 20% increase in cotton yield per megalitre of water;
  • and an increase in Water Use Efficiency across the industry from 60 to 80%.

The Catchment

The program focuses on research for improved river health and sustainable use of groundwater while sustaining cotton profits. The program is expected to result in:

  • Increased efficiency in delivery of water allocations to industry, environment & community
  • Improved capacity to purify irrigation water for re-use and the environment
  • Proactive management strategies to prevent rising water tables and the occurrence of salinity in cotton growing areas
  • Improved vegetation condition, extent and management to benefit growers, catchments and communities and ecosystem services

The Communities

The Program will work with regional communities and local government via:

  • Evaluation of the economic impact of cotton growing, processing and marketing activities on regional communities and their linkages to regional, and national economic activity.
  • Definition and frameworks for the social interrelationships that are important to the viability and long-term prosperity of regional centres and the industry.
  • Creating employment opportunities for indigenous people in regional areas.

The Products

The Program will deliver outcomes to ensure that Australian cotton will be in demand worldwide by textile mills and end consumers for its high quality and ‘eco-friendly’ credentials and other value adding opportunities via:

  • Objective measurement of fibre characteristics and integration of agronomic, harvesting and ginning systems that minimize fibre damage and contamination, delivering higher returns to growers
  • Eco-labelling of Australian cotton through the Industry’s Best Management Practice (BMP) initiative
  • Development of added-value by using current on-farm water storages for diversified aquaculture initiatives.

Adoption

The Program focuses on delivering innovative education, extension and knowledge management systems that provide the cotton community with access to the skills, knowledge and capacity for more rapid adoption of the research outcomes.

This includes PhD programs, innovative short courses, science for schools, information delivery systems, innovative decision support tools, and implementation of a comprehensive environmental management system through further development and adoption of the Cotton industry’s environmental Best Management Practice (BMP) system.

Role of NSWDPI in the CCC CRC

NSW DPI role’s in the Cotton CRC is two fold:

  1. provision of research and extension in a number of research areas, and
  2. provision of office space for the CRC administration.

Provision of research and extension in a number of research areas

NSWDPI research and extension staff have an important role in a number of research and extension areas within the CRC. The research projects being undertaken by NSWDPI in 2005-06 include the following:

Projects Researcher/s Collaborators/Supervisor
Development of Sustainable Integrated Weed Management strategies for use with Low Input Cotton Systems: the critical period for weed control

Dr Ian Taylor
Mr Craig Chapman

Mr Graham Charles (Supervisor)
Maintaining profitability and soil quality in cotton farming systems II Dr Nilantha Hulugalle  
Improving management of summer weeds in dryland cropping systems with cotton   Mr Graham Charles
Mr Craig Chapman
(Collaborators)
Mechanisms underlying the efficacy of Petroleum spray oils (PSOs) against cotton aphids PhD student project Robert Mensah
(Research supervisor)
Molecular factors determining BRR cotton interactions leading to BRR diseases   Dr David Nehl
Sesquestration of carbon below ground in the cotton fields Ph.D student project Dr Nilantha Hulugalle
(Research supervisor)
Quantifying deep drainage using lysimetry   Dr Nilantha Hulugalle
(Collaborator)
Managing Helicoverpa spp. and sucking pests on cotton using semiochemicals Ms Angela Singleton Dr Robert Mensah
(Research Supervisor)
NRM Governance in relation to the Cotton Industry   Dr Bob Farquharson
(Collaborator)
Scoping the selection of baseline socio-economic indicators for cotton communities   Dr Bob Farquharson
(Collaborator)
Evaluation of the potential for aquaculture on cotton farms = cage culture of silver perch-NSW Component Dr Stuart Rowland Mr Mark Nixon
Mr Charlie Mifsud
Mr Phil Read
Dr Geoff Allan
(Collaborators)
LWA-Understanding and Developing Effective Knowledge Management Systems Mr David Williams  
Cotton Industry Development Officer – Extension  Gwydir valley Julie O’Halloran  
Southern NSW Cotton Industry Development Officer – Extension (Griffith) Scott Vaessen  
Australian Cotton Industry Technology Transfer Centre Mr David Larsen Ms Tracey Farrell
(Collaborator)
Advancing  Water  Management in the cotton industry Irrigation Engineer (TBA)

Dr Eddie Parr
(Supervisor)

Mr Michael Grabham
Ms Eva Quarisa
Mr Mitchell Carter
(Collaborators)

Water Use Industry Survey Mr Mitchell Carter  

Provision of office space for the CRC administration

NSW DPI has provided an office space at the Technology Resource Centre at the Australian Cotton Research Institute (ACRI) for the Cotton CRC. The re-location of the Cotton CRC at the Technology Resource Centre has provided enough space for the CRC staff and students. It has also allowed the Cotton CRC to maintain their identity.