Celebrating ten years of CottonInfo: connecting growers with research
This month Australian cotton celebrates ten years of CottonInfo with a look back at a decade of impact delivered by the industry's extension program.
Established in 2012, CottonInfo is a joint initiative of Cotton Australia, Cotton Seed Distributors (CSD) and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC). It is a unique industry partnership that communicates the outcomes of research, encourages grower adoption of technology and innovation, and improves industry practices.
CottonInfo Program Manager Warwick Waters said since its launch in 2012, CottonInfo has played a critical role in building cotton's success by connecting growers and consultants with the latest research and development (R&D).
"CottonInfo supports growers in adopting new R&D and improving on-farm practices, and helps move research innovations from laboratories onto cotton fields," Warwick said.
"Our aim is to give growers the information they need, when they need it, to make the best management decisions for a productive, profitable, and sustainable farm."
By delivering resources targeted to cotton growers, the program has played a crucial role in industry-defining adoption leading to world-leading yields and major water use efficiency gains.
"Our team provides advice on nutrition, soil health, water management, pesticide use efficiency, energy use, carbon, biosecurity, disease and insect management, fibre quality, natural resource management, stewardship and weed control.
"When we started, we were a team of just 9. We now have 21 experts standing by to help growers, consultants and agronomists from one season to the next."
Warwick said that over the ten years, CottonInfo had delivered more than 1,300 research extension activities to over 20,000 participants. The program's staff have also supported over eighty farm trials, the collection of 1,000 plus weed samples, and hundreds of field disease surveys.
"In 2022, CottonInfo continues to expand our services with extension officers, technical leads, and myBMP experts based across Australia's cotton-growing valleys," Mr Waters said.
"We also deliver the latest news to growers through the website, weekly e-newsletters, best practice publications, a YouTube channel with almost three million views and a newly created podcasting service.
"It's great to look back at CottonInfo's impact over the decade. We're proud of the work we've done and have a great deal planned for the next ten years to continue connecting growers with the latest R&D."
The cotton industry will celebrate CottonInfo's ten years of impact and achievements at the Australian Cotton Conference at the Gold Coast from August 16-18, 2022.
Observations about CottonInfo – from cotton growers
"CottonInfo's extension knowledge is at the forefront of the cotton industry. Over the ten years, I've had many touch points with the CottonInfo team, including trials, publications, field days, and coordination of researcher visits. I've enjoyed meeting up with the team in cotton fields, on kayaks, on head ditches and at conferences." - Cleave Rogan, grower, St George.
"The staff are great at bringing information together and helping connect with research. I've worked with lots of the CottonInfo team, especially our local Regional Extension Officer Janelle Montgomery on irrigation optimisation and area-wide management." - Rob Holmes, consultant, Gwydir.
"I've worked with CottonInfo on connecting with water use efficiency (WUE) research through the University of Southern Qld and having the team help organise head-ditch talks on WUE. In the last few years, I've appreciated the work on the retention trials, which has given us the confidence to not pull the trigger too early on pest management." - Liz Lobsey, consultant, Darling Downs.
Cottoninfo's impact – an industry perspective
"CottonInfo's greatest strength is the collaboration and cooperation between the partner organisations CRDC, CSD and Cotton Australia and growers. Through CottonInfo, we have a high level of experience in the field with our Technical Leads and Regional Extension Officers. The team has built trust and respect with growers and advisors, which is helping to accelerate outcomes for the industry. It will be great to celebrate that together at the conference." - Dr Ian Taylor, Executive Director, CRDC.
"One of the most significant achievements of the CottonInfo partnership is its established relationships with growers and advisors. The team has had strong continuity of staff who continue to work on innovative ways of improving best practices on the farm. This is especially important in connecting growers with advice in areas of market failure. The team has a strong connection with the myBMP program. It continues to help the industry showcase its solid credentials around sustainable production." - Adam Kay, Cotton Australia, CEO.
"CottonInfo offers a path to market for innovation and best practices. The CottonInfo partnership ensures that industry activities are coordinated and effective. It is also a great vehicle for showcasing the excellent work occurring within our industry." - Peter Graham, Managing Director, Cotton Seed Distributors.