Benchmarking Cotton Water Productivity

Improving water productivity is a high priority for Australian agriculture, particularly given increased pressure on available water supplies.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is working with the Australian cotton industry to improve the productive and sustainable use of available water.

This research, co-funded by DPI and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, is exploring water productivity and sustainability trends over the past two decades, while assisting growers in making water management decisions.

The latest results released in May 2024 have found:

  • Australian growers produce an average of 1.06 bales of lint per ML of water, more than double the global average of 0.48 bales.
  • In Australia, an average of 1.03 ML of water is required to produce one bale of cotton, less than half the global average of 2.07 ML.

Long term trends

Monitoring of crop water over the past two decades has shown significant improvements in productivity over that time - see past results from 2006/7,2008/9, 2012/13, 2014, 2018, and 2021.

Latest Results

The cotton benchmarking program shows that since 1997, there has been a trend of improving cotton water productivity and sustainability. However, significant seasonal fluctuations are becoming more apparent.

YouTube videos

CottonInfo partnership resources

The DPI Water Research & Development team work closely with the cotton industry's CottonInfo organisation. CottonInfo has produced a range of resources highlighting our collaborative research into water productivity:

  • CottonInfo e-Newsletter article: Still on the Rise. CRDC and NSW DPI water productivity benchmarking results for the 2017-2018 irrigated cotton season show significant increases in water productivity.
  • Spotlight - Autumn 2020. The water productivity benchmarking project was featured on page 16 of the Cotton Research & Development Corporation's Spotlight Magazine.