Significant Gains In Environmental Performance Of Aussie Cotton

The results of a new comprehensive independent assessment of the environmental performance of Australia’s cotton industry have been released revealing significant gains, and areas for improvement.

This latest assessment undertaken by GHD, a global professional services company focused on sustainability at the request of Cotton Australia and other stake holders.

The assessment included a combination of desktop research, interviews with industry stakeholders, and visits to farms of all sizes.

The assessment found the Aussie cotton industry had delivered fully on four of six recommendations in the 2012 Third Independent Environmental Assessment and made significant progress on the other two.

The assessment also offered 16 new recommendations which will be assessed in another ten years.

The Australian cotton industry has accepted all 16 new recommendations, with all either currently under action or with strategic planning underway to inform the next steps.

More than half of the new recommendations are to continue work already underway, while others are initiatives put forward to GHD by the cotton industry as actions that were planned.

GHD’s on-farm observations rated close to 90 percent of the environmental criteria observed across all farms as ‘excellent’, ‘very good’ or ‘good’, rising to over 95 percent for myBMP-registered growers.

GHD also observed the industry has sound processes in place to identify and respond to environmental issues, through the implementation of cotton’s industry-wide sustainability framework.

Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay said the assessment is another indication of the commitment of the cotton industry to continually improve its environmental and sustainability outcomes.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to safeguard our environment and to continually improve as an industry using science-based criteria in an open and transparent way,” Adam said.

CRDC Executive Director Allan Williams noted that the assessment continues a long-standing commitment by the cotton industry to seek an external, independent perspective on performance.

The report noted that water use and management has resulted in demonstrable on-farm improvement over many years.

GHD observed that water use was monitored thoroughly on the farms throughout the cotton growing regions where on-site farm visits were undertaken.

The assessment found the industry had made continual progress in pest management with pesticide use significantly reduced and while herbicide use has increased.

This has resulted in drastic reduction of overall environmental toxic load, a result of the industry’s significant investments in a multi-pronged approach to reduce pesticide use and resistance.

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