Why Growing Organic Cotton In Australia Is So Problematic?
There are many reasons why Reer Endz underwear unfortunately is not made in Australia, you can read about those other reasons on our blog Proudly Australian Owned & Operated.
However one of those reasons is there is no Organic Cotton grown in Australia, please continue to read this blog to see why growing Organic Cotton in Australia is so problematic.
THE NEED FOR ENOUGH WATER
Cotton is only planted when sufficient water is made available from rivers and groundwater sources through government-regulated water licensing schemes. When there’s no water, there’s no cotton. Cotton’s average irrigation requirement is 7.8 megalitres per hectare. This compares to rice (12.6ML/ha), fruit and nut trees (5.6 ML/ha) and cut flowers and turf (4.9 ML/ha). (Source: cottonaustralia.com.au, 2019). The ongoing/intermittent drought throughout much of N.S.W. and Queensland where cotton is usually commercially grown has reduced the viability of planting out many of these crops in the first place.THE NEED FOR ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE ACCESS TO WATER
The controversy surrounding water usage in the Murray-Darling Basin (where about 90% of all Australian cotton is grown), the cost of irrigation and the environmental impact from the irrigation methods currently implemented is well documented, with one of the most seemingly unbiased reports found here, published by The Australian Edition of The Guardian Newspaper.THE NEED TO CONTROL INSECT PESTS
According to the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, until the introduction of genetically modified (GM) cotton, the main insect pests of cotton were the larvae of Helicoverpa Cotton bollworm and Helicoverpa punctigera These caterpillars had the potential to devastate cotton crops and were generally controlled with synthetic insecticides, which also controlled the majority of other cotton pests. To reduce the need for these synthetic sprays and to assist farmers to produce better returns, the CSIRO partnered with Monsanto to breed cotton varieties suited to different regions in Australia. One of those varieties is Bollguard II. It contains two genes from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis. Those genes produce proteins in the cotton leaves, killing the caterpillars of cotton’s biggest pest. THE NEED TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF OTHER PESTS
To make cotton growing in Australia even more challenging, a recent report on the ABC’s landline also listed Wild Pigs as being a new and significant threat to cotton crops in Northern N.S.W. and South East Queensland. One landholder reportedly spent half a million dollars in fencing to keep the pigs off his crops. Research into other suitable control methods and an attempt to engage all the farmers in a region is ongoing and presents its own set of challenges again.WHY IS ORGANIC COTTON NO LONGER GROWN IN AUSTRALIA?While it might be possible to significantly reduce the use of insecticides and pesticides WITHOUT using GM cotton in Australia, be financially able to fence the land to control the feral pig population from devastating the crops, and use land in our most suitable crop-growing regions in periods of reasonable rainfall, organic cotton is a long way from being commercially viable here.WHERE THEN, CAN QUALITY CERTIFIED ORGANIC COTTON ACTUALLY BE GROWN?When we made the switch from conventional cotton to organic cotton we had to do our research. We wanted to ensure the businesses we worked with credible mills that had Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) organic certification. Our mills are located in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra, & Tamil Nadu India. India is the largest producer of organic cotton in the world, contributing 51 per cent of the world’s produce. In 2018-19, there was a 43 per cent increase in organic cotton production.
Organic cotton requires plenty of sunshine, it prefers a warm and humid climate like India. India has very rich soil and a naturally suitable underground water table, which is a perfect combination to grow organically.
Black soil is also known as Black Cotton Soil is found in parts of India. This soil is rich in calcium carbonate, potash, lime and magnesium carbonate. It is mostly found in areas such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. It is also found in states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Black soil is excellent and clayey and can hold a lot of moisture.In summary, we don't use Australian cotton for underwear because;Australian Cotton is grown with pesticides and toxic chemicals, and then further processed with more chemicals.Australian Cotton uses vast amounts of water to irrigate the crops – Certified Organic Cotton can only be grown in areas that can utilize natural rainwater which does not need irrigation.The cost in Australia to have the cotton processed under organic certification is the biggest problem, and therefore it’s economically not viable for the farmers to grow organically in most regions of Australia, and in our current climate.If we could buy Australian Grown Organic Cotton, there is no question we certainly would!
Until next time ...