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Thinking about diversifying into cotton? (10 July 2014)

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has  today launched a new online tool which allows farmers to investigate almost 100 options for diversifying their enterprise – including into cotton.

The search tool, located on the www.farmdiversity.com.au website is free and easy to use. After simply entering their postcode, farmers see a ‘shortlist’ of industries that may be viable in their area. More specific search information, such as rainfall, soil type and climate zone can be used to refine the search.

Farmers can also search for a particular plant or animal that may be of interest. For each plant and animal the website provides essential information such as: production status, growing region maps, risks and challenges, regulatory considerations, publications, resources and contact information for industry bodies.

“Previously, farmers would have had to do extensive internet searches to unearth this kind of information. Importantly, the new tool may identify industries that a farmer may never have considered as opportunities,” said Craig Burns, Managing Director of RIRDC.

“While the primary driver for diversification is to increase income, other benefits are improving resilience, spreading risk and even reducing environmental impact. The website is a place to start. It will open up conversations across the kitchen table.”

The Farm Diversity website also contains a set of questions which farmers should ask themselves before considering diversification.

“The website should be considered a starting point in a farmer’s journey towards diversifying their enterprise, not the destination,” said Mr Burns. “Farmers need to fully understand the implications of becoming involved in a new industry before they invest.”

CRDC worked with RIRDC to develop the cotton industry pages of the Farm Diversity website, encouraging farmers to consider cotton as a potential new crop within their farming enterprise.