Macquarie river management important for cotton

31 December, 2003

___Cotton CRC Chief Executive Officer, Guy Roth, has told Macquarie Valley cotton growers that managing riparian lands in their region is of vital importance to the future viability of the cotton industry._

Launching the new publication “Managing riparian land in the cotton industry” together with Glen Whittaker, President of Macquarie Food and Fibre Association, Guy Roth said intensive agricultural production systems like cotton growing can affect waterways, downstream water users, neighbours and communities.

Pictured at the recent Macquarie Riparian Guide Launch are Glen Whittaker, Macquaries cotton grower and chairman of Macquarie River Food & Fibre, and Cotton CRC CEO, Guy Roth.

“This publication is packed with grower case studies demonstrating the many things that landholders can do to enhance the riparian land on their properties.

“Careful management of riparian land on cotton farms can help minimise these effects, and result in environmental and aesthetic benefits for cotton growers and their communities,” he said.

The new riparian guide provides information on how best to manage riparian land. Different management options are provided, with the science underpinning these options described so that on-farm decisions can be made based on the best available information.

The guide has been developed by the Cotton Research & Development Corporation, the Australian Cotton Cooperative Research Centre, and Land & Water Australia.

“Although cotton farms cover less than 5% of the catchment area, they are generally located adjacent to rivers and riparian areas. Improving the management of riparian lands is an obvious and necessary next step for the industry,” Guy Roth said.

Recent scientific research has substantially improved the understanding of how riparian land functions in Australia. This guide draws together scientific findings, tools and techniques that can assist cotton growers to better manage the important, yet vulnerable, riparian lands that exist on their farms.

Mr Glen Whittaker, President Macquarie Food and Fibre, explained to the launch meeting how his enterprise had improved its stormwater management by using a small bank and a reed bed as a filter to clean water of sediment before any surplus is discharged across adjacent grazing country.

Five years ago, his Yahgunyah Partnership purchased a 2000 acre irrigation farm on the Marthaguy Creek, near Quambone, 90 kilometres north of Warren. A Stormwater Management Plan was prepared to allow excessive stormwater to discharge directly onto the neighbour’s grazing country.

To address this issue, the Partnership relocated the blow-out point 700 metres further up the tailwater return channel, and installed a bank so that the water filters through a reed bed.

“The Partnership was more than happy to make these changes as it gave us the extra confidence in our stormwater management system.

“Other benefits include good relations with all neighbouring land holders, and the reed bed functioning as an on-farm wetland that enhances the biodiversity of both the farm and nearby creek ecosystem,” Mr Whittaker concluded.

_Further Information: _Guy Roth, CEO (Cotton CRC): 02 6799 1509, guy.roth@csiro.au, Ms Kirrily Rourke, NSW Agriculture, Warren 0408 447 483