Biodegradable technology brings ‘higher cotton yield at less cost to the environment’

Alex Whitebrook/ September 12, 2018/ News/ 0 comments

Some years ago, scientists in Queensland began trialling the use of an unlikely piece of material — biodegradable film — to boost yield and maximise water usage.

The film is laid at the same time as the seed is planted.

By trapping the thermal units from the sun, it raises the soil temperature several degrees, which is beneficial for getting cotton seeds established.

“It helps us get cotton in a little bit earlier, it creates a greenhouse effect for the cotton, keeps it warmer, helps it grow quicker, little bit of water efficiency, things like that,” David McGrath, chief of One Crop, said.

“There’s potential with the same amount of water to increase the yield — I’d like to think up to 50 per cent.

“We’ve come close to that — very close to that — here on the Darling Downs. We’ve also achieved that on the Texas pan handle.”

Nic Clapham is a third-generation cotton grower at Cecil Plains, on the central Darling Downs. He has been experimenting with growing his crop under film to give his cotton an early boost, and potentially reduce or redirect water usage.

“It sounded like an innovative idea and we’re always looking at new things,” he said.

“I thought that was something we could potentially do to improve our cotton.”

This season on Mr Clapham’s property there is no cotton in the ground where it normally would be, after it was hailed out for the second year running. Still, he said he remained optimistic.

“The first year it got hailed out, we grew that cotton out and we still saw a bale per hectare or better than a bale a hectare under that film, even in the hailed-out scenario,” Mr Clapham said.

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