Irrigation water availability is a limiting factor in cotton production. With extensive research and technological advancements water-use efficiency has increased by approximately 240% since the 1970’s and Australian cotton growers are now recognised as the most water-use efficient in the world and three times more efficient than the global average.
In addition, Best Management Practices programs, Integrated Pest Management strategies and the use of biotechnology reduced pesticide use by more than 85% during the period 2000-2010.
Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of raw cotton, with more than 90% of production exported, mainly to Asian spinning mill customers. China, Indonesia and Thailand are the main buyers, followed by South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Pakistan and Italy.
- There are more than 1200 cotton farms in Australia, roughly half in NSW and half in Queensland
- Cotton is one of Australia’s largest rural export earners and helps underpin the viability of more than 152 rural communities
- The industry directly employs 10,000 Australians
- The cotton industry employs 15 times as many people as grazing and five times as many people as dryland cropping.
- Australian irrigated lint yields are now the highest of any major cotton producing country in the world, being about three times the world average - this means Australia cotton growers produce more crop per unit of water
- Cotton is mostly grown in the 400-800mm summer rainfall zone in Queensland and NSW, which means cotton crops can receive significant amounts of their water needs from rain during the growing season
- Cotton is a major commodity, representing from 30 to 60% of the gross value of the total agricultural production in Australian regions where it is grown (source: Australian Grown Cotton Sustainability Report, 2014)
- Australia uses 100% local seed and has the enviable reputation on the world market as a reliable supplier of very high-quality cotton and can command a premium price for this reason. Varieties from CSIRO’s cotton plant breeding program has improved yield, High Volume Instrument (HVI) classing quality and are showing superior textile performance attributes
- In an average year, Australia’s cotton growers produce enough cotton to clothe 500 million people
- Australia produces around 4-5% of the world’s cotton, but is the third largest exporter, behind the USA and India.
The major buyers of Australian cotton are currently China (68%), Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Bangladesh and Japan.