Major breakthrough in reducing cotton pesticide use

29 July, 2003

The annual research review by the Australian Cotton Cooperative Research Centre has revealed major progress by the cotton industry in reducing the volume of chemicals applied to crops to arrest insect damage.

__Research showed that the amount of insecticide applied in 2002 to conventional cotton fields was 65 per cent less than in the late 1990s, and the amount applied to genetically modified (Bt cotton) fields was 80 per cent less.

During the mid to late 1990s, conventional cotton crops received an average of 11 sprays per season at a cost of $500 to $800 a hectare, which was clearly unsustainable.

Not only are growers reducing their use of insecticides and improving farm profits, but the majority (almost 70 per cent) are also committed to conserving beneficial insects, to using pesticides more selectively, and to the use of plant monitoring to improve pest management decisions.

Joint Cotton CRC program leaders, Dallas Gibb (above, right) (NSW Agriculture) and Geoff McIntyre (Queensland Department of Primary Industries), said the benefits of this reduction in pesticide use were flowing through to local communities and to the environment.

They said these achievements would not have been possible without large-scale grower involvement in area wide management groups that coordinate regional pest management activities, and their ready acceptance of integrated pest management tools and strategies.

They said the CRCs research into integrated pest management (IPM) and the decision support systems developed within CRC programs, provided a valuable foundation for the insecticide reduction program, as did the valuable work of the CRC’s national extension network in facilitating the adoption of industry best practice.

The CRC research review was held at the University of New England Armidale on July 23-24. More than 130 researchers from the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland, NSW, Victoria and the ACT presented the results of cotton research projects and programs, and discussed future research directions.

Further Information: *"Robert Eveleigh**, John Marshall, Greg Kauter or Craig McDonald":showstaff.asp?staff=1