Source DocumentPrevious PageTable Of ContentsHome PageNext Page

The essentials for cotton agroecosystem optimisation: current problems and future prospects

P.R.B. Blood and J.P. Evenson

University of Queensland.

A viable and efficient Australian cotton industry will be predicated on four basic requirements. One of these, successful marketing, will not be treated here, but the other three are highly relevant to a conference of agronomists. They are:

1. Cultivar development, evaluation and implementation.

  • Cotton cultivars adapted to the widely-scattered Australian cotton growing localities must be developed. Short-season cultivars appropriate to the cooler conditions of the Macquarie Valley and the Darling Downs are not yet available. Cultivars suitable for the tropical conditions of Emerald and possibly the Burdekin are also required.
  • Cultivars possessing specific characters conferring resistance to disease, insects and possessing superiority in fibre qualities. Current work in this area is in the evaluation stage.
  • Cultivars adapted to changing energy circumstances. There has been a significant switch in the U.S. to short season, low-input cotton production.

2. Development of superior, long-term cotton protection systems. In addition to the development of pest and disease resistant cultivars referred to above, successful prosecution of the cotton protection will require the benefits of major technical resources:

  • Pesticides. Currently we have biodegradable, cost-effective and bio-selective compounds. Unfortunately there are no compounds embracing all three attributes.
  • Biological Control. Conservation of beneficial arthropods in cotton can confer an advantage of ca.500 kg of lint per hectare. Management of these beneficials is in its formative stages. Not the least problem is the inability of current protection programmes to fully marry the beneficials with available pesticides. Resistance to insecticides is inevitable. The development of resistance can be postponed by emphasising non-pesticide based approaches and by the use of the following framework aimed at management optimisation.

3. Development and Implementation of Monitoring and Decision-making Systems. 'On-line' computerised crop management systems are in current use in the U.S.A. and have been successfully employed on a range of crops and pests. An 'on-line' cotton system has been proposed by both C.S.I.R.O. Division of Plant Industry and the University of Queensland for Australian cotton-growing areas.

The essentials for such a system will include cotton growth simulators, major pest population simulators, optimisation programmes, irrigation management programmes, data base management systems and a communication network. The monitoring system will consist of independent 'scouts' who will sample the system twice weekly. This latter system is already functional in Queensland.

The decision-making framework based on computer-modelling is at various stages of development within C.S.I.R.O. and the University of Queensland.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page