2020 is the UN's International Year of Plant Health. So, each month this year, our Technical Lead for Biosecurity, Sharna Holman, will be bringing you her top tips for your plant health.

For January this tip is: Monitor, manage, report.

Australia’s biosecurity system helps protect us from exotic plant pests and pathogens, however there is always the possibility that exotic pests will enter the country and reach our second line of defence – us.

Exotic plant pests and diseases can reduce yields and profitability, affect our environment or change the way we manage our…

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December brings to a close the year-long program of NRM top tips, in alignment with our 2019 CottonInfo cotton calendar. So, in this month's blog, CottonInfo Technical Lead for Natural Resources Stacey Vogel, shares with you her top 12 cotton industry examples of good biodiversity stewardship.

1.

For the past 20 years, the Macquarie Cotton Growers Association, in partnership with Narromine and Warren Shire Councils and NSW DPI Fisheries, have been undertaking fingerling (young native fish) releases to help restore native fish populations within the Macquarie River.

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This month’s NRM tip is to help nature's workforce work for you by providing habitat.

The Cottoning on to the great outdoors: Nature's workforce booklet from CottonInfo contains information about some of the amazing flora and fauna found in our cotton communities, and how this natural workforce is providing benefits to our farms and regions.

One such 'natural worker' is the striated pardalote (pictured)- a very small short-tailed woodland bird species, which forages noisily for small insects in the tops of trees. Another is Australia’s iconic…

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This month’s NRM tip is to improve connectivity of habitat patches and corridors. Corridors of native vegetation - be it woodlands, grasslands or wetlands - and how well they are connected to other patches of native vegetation on farm or in the broader landscape are very important to fauna survival. Corridors of native vegetation facilitate the movement of fauna through the landscape which is important for genetic diversity, adaptation to climate change and also to escape and survive catastrophic events like floods, fire or droughts.

Watch a short overview of the importance of…

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For cotton irrigators creating water budgets, it is important to understand the return on a water investment. Current conditions, competition and the continued dry outlook hare resulted in the price for temporary allocation water steadily increasing.

Individual businesses should assess if the most profitable position is to be a buyer or seller in the temporary market, or to simply go about business as usual. The following example evaluates a purchase of temporary allocation to finish a cotton crop by considering the marginal return.

EXAMPLE

You have allocated…

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September is Biodiversity Month! Did you know almost 10 percent of all the species on earth are found in Australia? And that 400 different vegetation types are found on cotton properties in NSW and QLD?

To understand changes in biodiversity condition - be it negative or positive - as a result of land management or climate variability, we need to be able to benchmark, monitor and record these changes over time.

A summary of monitoring tools that can be used on-farm to evaluate biodiversity condition (plants, animals, soils & water) is available in the Monitor to…

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The availability of water in the landscape significantly impacts the presence of fauna including the number of beneficials (insects, birds & bats) present to assist in pest management.

Native vegetation near water sources such as water storages, rivers, creeks, wetlands and even channels are generally healthier and have much higher populations of beneficials and other types of fauna than vegetation that is not near water.

Insects generally get their water from rain drops or dew, however in dry periods such as the current drought they rely more on other sources of water…

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Groundcover is any material on or near the soil surface, including living and dead plants, plant litter, bark, leaves, manure and rocks. Most of us are aware of the importance of maintaining groundcover for protecting soils from erosion, moderating soil temperature and capturing rainfall and nutrients which are important for soil and plant health. Less well known is the important role groundcover, in particular surface litter, plays in providing habitat for fauna and sources of propagules (seeds, pores and suckers) for riparian and floodplain vegetation regeneration.

The dead…

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Did you know that over 70 species of terrestrial wildlife (reptiles, birds, frogs and small mammals) found on cotton farms use logs and rocks as habitat? 

Unfortunately, simplification of habitat, ie the removal of the diversity of materials that form habitat such as logs, is threatening the existence of many of these species in agricultural landscapes.

Large hollow and decomposing logs provide the most useful habitat however these can take up to 200 years to form as they have to grow, die and become log habitat. Not only do logs provide habitat but they also provide an…

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Trees with hollows - both dead and alive - are a habitat requirement for many of our native animals. According to the research of Gibbens and Lindenmayer in 1997, around 17 per cent of birds, 42 per cent of mammals and 28 per cent of reptiles in south eastern Australia use hollows - including possums, gliders, microbats, parrots, owls, ducks, rosellas, kingfishers as well as many species of snakes, frogs and skinks.

Hollow formation occurs mainly in eucalyptus species such as gums and box trees. River Red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), commonly found on…

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