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Cotton Farm in Australia: The Best Place and Time of Cultivation Given Climate Change

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Cotton has been used for clothing for many centuries within Australia the first being in 1788 when the first fleet brought three bags of cotton seeds to Australia. In 1861 The American civil war made America’s cotton production fall and Australia tried to fill its place, to do this they had to employ 62,500 south sea islanders to run the cotton stations but in 1906 “coloured” labour (slavery) was prohibited and 90% of the South Sea Islanders were deported. In 1954 the cotton industry was almost non-existed but re-established itself in 1966 when cotton is planted in the Macquarie valley and at Bourke. 1971 cotton industry was back up and running at full capacity and our production reached 87,000 bales. In 1977 the construction of the Pindari and Glenlyon dams allows cotton to be grown in Southern Queensland leading to a world record in 1992 with Australia having 2.2 million bales but due to a drought in 1995, we fell back to 1.5 million bales. Then in 2001, the world cotton prices hit the lowest they have been in nearly thirty years while we got a record of 3.4 million bales of cotton. From 2002 to 2004 the worst drought in a hundred years happen and we lost 60% percent of our cotton and the next production was influenced by this drought and was the smallest crop in 30 years. We then rebuilt our cotton industry and in 2011/12 we set a world record of 5.3 million bales of cotton. In 2012 we had an environmental assessment of the Australian cotton industry and finds significant improvements in natural resource management. The Optimum conditions to grow cotton in Australia is to have constant temperatures between 18°c and 30°c, Ample Sunshine and fairly dry conditions, Deep well-drained soils with good nutrient content and long vegetation periods without drought all of these things are needed to grow cotton. The average size of an Australian cotton farm is 305 hectares and produces on average 10 bales per hectare making 3050 bales of cotton per farm per annum. The average cotton farm also employs 8 people that are usually of one family that lives on the farm.


Australia a country known for great cotton production has experienced lots of high amounts of cotton production and low amounts of cotton production since 1989 the highest being 2011/12 where we produced 5,300,000 bales of cotton. This large production was due to the weather, temperature, climate and amount of hectares that cotton was grown on. This year created such a good crop because of a high year of rainfall measured at 705ml linking back to our introduction paragraph and giving it Deep well-drained soil with good nutrients. Also, the temperature in 2011 was perfect at a 21.67°c average which is right where it needs to be (between 18°c and 30°c) for the optimum conditions to grow cotton in Australia. Although this year had the highest amount of cotton production it is still not the best possible year for cotton production because in 2014/15 it had 11.5 bales per hectare whereas in 2011/12 it only had 9.46 bales per hectare this is shown throughout the whole graph and is because of the amount of hectares used to grow cotton in that year so in 2011/12 there where 566,000 bales used on the other hand in 2014/15 there where 196,689 meaning that if the two years using the same number of hectares then 2014/15 would have a higher cotton production.

Australia produces lots of cotton from many places, but the three main places are Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. This is because of their weather, climate and temperature. As mentioned in the introduction the optimum condition to grow cotton is constant temperatures between 18°c and 30°c, Ample Sunshine and fairly dry conditions, Deep well-drained soils with good nutrient content and long vegetation periods without drought. These are the things that Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have in common making there cotton production higher than the cotton production of anywhere else. Possible reasons for this could be because of the proximity to the ocean (distance from the farm to the coast) making a more stable/cool environment for the cotton to grow in, and the Great Dividing Range keeping all the moist air blown in from the ocean on the side closest to the ocean and on the other side creating a very dry and barren environment which you cannot grow cotton in thus proving that you will have more cotton production on the side closest to the ocean and that is where the three biggest producers of cotton in Australia (Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria) are positioned.

When the analysing data of Appendix 5 and Appendix 4 it reveals a very interesting point, and that is that Queensland has more hectares of cotton farms, but New South Wales produces more cotton. These statements are shown in Appendix 5 (Australian cotton area NSW V QLD) where New South Wales’ cotton area has its highest point in 1998/99 where it gets to Approx. 380000 Hectares but on the other hand, Queensland’s cotton area has its highest point in 1998/99 where it gets to Approx. 560000 Hectares. And although Queensland does have more Hectares of cotton farming it does not have a higher cotton production and this is shown in Appendix 4 (Australian Cotton Production NSW V QLD) where Queensland produced 1300000 bales of cotton on their best year in 2004/05 whereas New South Wales produced 2400000 bales of cotton on their best year in 2000/01. Proving that new south wales produce more cotton.


There are many things that Farmer Brown may need to know about Australian cotton farms if he would like to start his own and these could be things such as the soil salinity level the change in climate throughout the seasons and the availability of water to where he would like to plant his farm. A piece of information that would be critical to Farmer Brown is the levy/toll that Australian cotton farmers have to pay per bale. This toll that Australian farmers have to pay is approximately $2.25 per bale and if applied to the average bale produce (1.5 million) per year you would pay to pay a total of $337,500 tax to the government. Another piece of information that farmer brown would find useful towards his judgement on creating a cotton farm in Australia is the availability of water this problem is heavily regarded throughout the cotton industry because in the hot and dry summers of Australia there is no water to keep the cotton hydrated and farmers have to purchase the water to irrigate their plants. Also, Farmer Brown might want to know is the time it takes to assemble a Cotton Farm in Australia, this is such a big problem because access to resources you HAVE TO HAVE when starting up a cotton farm in Australia is not very attainable.

Influences of Science

Australia’s cotton industry is ever-growing and with this, technological advancements have had to be made to sustain the demand of cotton in the modern day. These advancements are being used across the board for things such as reducing the amount of water used and improving the efficiency of the cotton-picking process but also creating irrigated fields of cotton that don’t use a syphoning system. One of these technological advancements that is truly changing the game is a probe that measures the soil moisture, this is such a big help because the cotton growers’ most precious resource is water and this new piece of technology is maximizing the amount of water that is able to be used within their cotton farm by measuring the soil moisture level and notifying the farmer if the soil moisture level is too low and if the water levels are at the right level then the farmer will stop watering the farm so he does not waste any excess water. Other technological advancements that have been made are in the field of picking cotton the advancement we have made in this field is using round bale pickers. These help us by improving the efficiency of picking cotton and when using the machine, you can get the most cotton off the plant without leaving a lot of excess cottons.


Another way that the world of science has influenced cotton is through biotechnology this is the study of scientists going into the molecular structure of cotton and changing it. This has been exhibited many times in the form of infusing pesticides and herbicides within the plant’s DNA. One of the main times that we have used biotechnology is in the form of Bt cotton, Bt cotton is when they infuse Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) into the genes of cotton this helps us by having the pesticide already built into the plant so they do not have to spray it with the pesticide which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide runoff making our soil much healthier because it is not drowned in chemicals. This not only helps us with the plant not being eaten away by animals but it also creates a more safe environment for the farmer and his neighbours because they are not polluting the air with chemicals and it also allows increased populations of the beneficial insects needed (such as bees to pollinate the flower) and just general wildlife it also widens our spectrum because it makes us able to plant cotton in area of high insect infestation without spraying chemicals and causing pollution.

Climate Change

Climate change is a big factor within the cotton industry with farmers battling the effects on a daily basis this has been displayed many times such as the temperature rising meaning we will not have the optimum conditions needed to grow cotton and also that cotton-growing runs on the changes in the El Niño (extremely hot and dry) and La Niña (very wet with increased rainfall) cycles. Cotton is not only being affected by climate change, but it is also contributing to it, but the amount they are contributing has decreased greatly with scientists studying cotton growing’s carbon emissions and figuring out ways to stop or decrease them by cutting cotton growing’s carbon emissions down to just 0.3% of Australian agriculture greenhouse gas emissions (which is 16% of all Australian greenhouse gas emissions). With greenhouse gases floating into the atmosphere making the temperature rise the cotton industry is suffering more and more. The ever-rising temperature is affecting many things including the whole of the agricultural industry and is making cotton a very difficult plant to grow this is because as stated in the introduction the optimum temperature to grow cotton in is temperatures between 18°c and 30°c and at the rate that our temperature is rising now we will soon exceed these boundaries.


After studying Climate change, the biotechnology of cotton, the technological advancements of cotton, where cotton is grown, the best possible year to grow cotton and many more things I have come to a conclusion of where farmer brown should buy land. As shown in appendix 4 and 5 we know that it is in NSW and if we look at our climate data, we can deduce that we cannot be too far away from the ocean if we still want to get sufficient amounts of rain and temperatures between 18° and 30°, therefore, the best possible place to buy land for cotton farming in Australia is slightly inland New South Wales. 

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Cotton Farm in Australia: the Best Place and Time of Cultivation Given Climate Change. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from
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