It’s not enough to change farming practices. The Australian cotton industry believes these changes must result in meaningful positive impacts for the natural environment, farm businesses and our communities. That’s why we scientifically measure change over time.
The industry is currently setting industry-wide sustainability targets to focus its efforts for the next 10-20 years. It conducts full industry-wide environmental audits every decade and reports progress to stakeholders via Sustainability Reports.
The Australian cotton industry makes a collaborative effort to measure both the practice changes occuring on-farm and the impact these changes have had on the natural environment, people and industry culture.
Whole of Industry Environmental Assessments
The Australian cotton industry was the first cotton industry in the world to conduct a full, independent environmental audit of its operations to benchmark sustainability performance and impact and devise industry-wide measures for improvement.
The first environmental audit was conducted in 1991, uncovering major issues with pesticide use and providing the impetus for the development of the myBMP (Best Management Practices) program.
In 2003, a second audit showed major improvements and made recommendations for additional work primarily in the areas of water use efficiency and biodiversity.
The third independent environmental assessment, conducted in 2012 found that "through its research and development investments and effective interrelationships between industry research institutions, grower organisations, commercial service providers and growers themselves, the industry has been substantially transformed since 2003."
The Australian cotton industry is commited to producing a Sustainability Report at least every five years. The first 2014 Australian Cotton Sustainability Report outlined the industry's strategy as well as reporting on environmental, economic and social performance in order to engage stakeholders. The 2019 report measures progress against a number of key areas including water, pesticides, biodiversity and climate change.
Annual Grower Practices Survey
Each year Australia's Cotton Research and Development Corporation conducts a survey of Australia's cotton growers to assess practice change and perceptions on issues including: nutrition, plant growth regulation, farm hygiene, chemical application management, harvesting, solar energy, participation in research trials, weeds, pests and disease control, pesticide management, irrigation technologies, natural resource management, on-farm training, labour needs and the industry’s contribution to local communities.