Under the National Landcare Program’s Smart Farming Partnerships initiative, CRDC secured a $1.3 million grant to bring Cotton Landcare Tech-Innovations 2021 onto Australian cotton farms to enhance natural resources and biodiversity.
The project builds on international best practice to implement and develop cutting-edge technologies, such as drone mapping and aerial seeding, acoustic monitoring and big data, to help Australian cotton better report on and improve on-farm biodiversity.
Cotton Landcare Tech-Innovations 2021 consists of four key activities. Each activity is led by experts from Australia, with national and global partners, to strengthen Australian cotton farm biodiversity and sustainability management.
Biodiversity management guidelines for cotton catchments
Goal: CRDC will identify priority areas and management practices for biodiversity conservation in cotton-growing environments.
Outcomes so far: A new biodiversity management web tool has been developed that collates regional biodiversity data. It helps cotton growers to identify priority areas and management actions to help restore habitat for threatened and iconic species within their Local government Area.
- CottonInfo: Managing biodiversity on cotton landscapes' tool
- Spotlight Spring 2020: Meeting industry biodiversity targets. (page 8)
Innovation for cotton landscape revegetation (drones & tractors)
Goal: Dr Rhiannon Smith from the University of New England, in collaboration with ecosystem restoration experts, Dendra Systems, will lead research to improve the capacity for cost-effective revegetation on cotton farms by trialling new and improved revegetation methods using drone and tractor technology.
Outcomes so far: 75 hectares of revegetation trial sites have been planted on cotton farms across NSW using drones and tractors. The research has demonstrated the interaction between soil disturbance, moisture management and weed response, and the impact of these variables on tree survival and growth in heavy clay soils in both riparian and floodplain ecosystems in semi-arid environments.
- Spotlight Autumn 2021: Drones fly into revegetation game (page 16)
Technology for acoustic monitoring on cotton farms (birds & microbats)
Goal: Prof. Stuart Parsons from the Queensland University of Technology, in collaboration with world-leading researchers in automated acoustic recogniser development and global citizen science from University College London, UK, will lead research to support biodiversity on cotton farms, including deploying innovative acoustic technologies to actively monitor, manage and report on biodiversity for a subset of bird and microbat species
Outcomes so far: Initial prototype acoustic sensor software and hardware has been developed and deployed.
- Spotlight Winter 2021: Listening in with artificial intelligence and machine learning (page 26)
Collaboration for a legacy of Australian cotton biodiversity action
Goal: CRDC will engage the Australian cotton industry to support cotton farmers to use new biodiversity technologies on their farms and to create a legacy of biodiversity action throughout the cotton value chain.
Outcomes so far: 19 cotton growers have taken part in research trials. 120 people have attended project extension events. 2 new collaborations have been formed (Country Road/Landcare Australia & Wee Waa Local Aboriginal Lands Council). 54 growers and consultants participated in online surveys and workshops providing their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities to managing biodiversity on farm.
- CottonInfo: Country Road & Landcare - protecting biodiversity in Australia's cotton landscapes
- CottonInfo revegetation demonstration field day - Narrabri
- Florabank workshop: Propagating plants - Wee Waa
- Perceptions of strategies to strengthen biodiversity management on cotton farms – final report
- CRDC Spotlight Autumn 2022 magazine article: What is biodiversity and what do we think about it?
For more information
CRDC R&D Manager and CottonInfo Tech Lead