Water use efficiency (WUE) is defined as the cotton crop’s capacity to convert water into yield. Australian cotton growers produce yields three times the world average, making them the most water efficient producers of cotton globally. Cotton growers are highly motivated to conserve water wherever possible due to:
- Water being the farmer’s most precious natural resource
- Its unreliability from year to year
- The high cost of water
From 1992 to 2019, there has been a 97 per cent increase in the bales of cotton grown per megalitre (ML) of water (effective rain and irrigation). This equates to a 48 per cent decrease in the water required per bale of cotton. In other words, Australian cotton growers are now:
- using almost half as much water to produce a bale of cotton, compared to 1992
- producing almost twice as much cotton from a ML of water, compared to 1992.