AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

COTTON: THE THIRSTY CROP

Muslin is a soft, fine cotton fabric with a plain weave. In plain weave cloth, the warp and weft threads cross at right angles, aligned so they form a simple criss-cross. Plain weave is the most basic of three fundamental types of textile weaves. This type of fabric can be both printed on and dyed to a specific colour. It is cool, comfortable and relatively inexpensive.

This article is not about berating the use of water in irrigating cotton crops. It is merely a summary of the use of precious water resources diverted to the growing of the world’s largest cash crop. If we study the usage data available to us from a multitude of reliable sources, we can quite easily see the need to revise our focus on the way we implement water usage with regards to cotton growing.
The issue is more about understanding the facts rather than apportioning any blame. Understanding is the key to the whole process.
There are a number of major statistics that should be considered.
1. A UN Report commissioned in 2015 predicts an unprecedented shortage of fresh drinking water on a global scale. It could be as high if not higher than a 40% shortfall in fresh water, which includes drinking water, by 2030. That date is not all that far away. This fact definitely points to both a human and environmental crisis looming on the near horizon.
2. Many countries have rapidly diminishing reserves of groundwater. If we combine this problem with ever changing rainfall patterns occurring as a result of the global warming phenomena then the calculations point to much more ground water reserves being depleted than are replenished. The UN Report goes further in predicting a world population of 9 billion people by 2050 with a comparable water requirement. The report predicts global water demand will increase 55 percent by 2050, while reserves dwindle. If current usage trends don’t change, the world will have only 60 percent of the water it needs in 2030.
3. There are a number of statistics that various agencies and authors use to give an indication of how much water is used in producing a cotton crop and subsequent cotton products. A number of these statistics are quoted below.
It takes more than 20,000 litres (5,283 gallons) of water to produce just one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cotton, which roughly equals one T-shirt and a pair of jeans. Another source puts forward that 4500 litres of water are needed to produce a single T-shirt. This analogy can be further advanced when it is noted that a human being on average needs approximately 3 litres of drinking water per day. At best case scenario that is 1500 days of drinking water per person per T-shirt.

In the final analysis it doesn’t matter all that much which set of figures we use for our water usage to cotton growing. It only matters that we are aware of the volume of water needed to produce our clothing.

But since organic cotton still only makes up 1 percent of cotton farming, there are still plenty of improvements that can be made in the cotton lifecycle as a whole, concentrating on sustainable practices. This is what we must concentrate on sustainable practices.

Perhaps on too many occasions we tend to see doom and gloom everywhere we look. We at BellaBabyOrganic do not believe that this is the case. Many well meaning and responsible people and agencies around the globe are lobbying their governments to review and implement sustainable water management policies.

An industry source based in Europe has reported in 2018 that 65% of all the cotton grown in the USA has been produced WITHOUT irrigation. Only in the marginal cotton growing areas of the dry mid West is irrigation used to supplement the crops water requirements.

When it is shown that 75% of all cotton grown on our planet is produced under various forms of irrigation, then those involved in this industry must strive to curtail ineffective use of irrigation water and to implement effective water saving strategies.

Below are images of drip irrigation systems.

However, there have been many advances in irrigation like drip-irrigation installations that reduce the amount of water used to supplement rainfall, in regions where it is needed. There is a growing trend among cotton growers and producers to employ a method of irrigation known as Drip Irrigation. Drip irrigation is a type of micro-irrigation system that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface. The goal is to place water directly into the root zone and minimize evaporation. This method is gaining more and more popularity as the years go by. It seems a perfectly logical way to deliver water to where it is needed most and to minimise any overflow or runoff generally associated with conventional forms of irrigating cotton crops.

There are other technologies that can help detect where in a field the soil is dry and where it isn’t, concentrating delivery to areas where water is needed. These technologies can sometimes be financially out of reach for small farmers, but since their benefits are substantial, organizations are trying to bridge the distance.

Governments, banks, corporations and private investors must consider financing schemes to give farmers greater access to drip-irrigation technology. These new irrigation systems can increase yields by 30 percent and reduce water usage by up to 60 percent.

There has been a concept that has been bandied around for quite some time that chemically produced cotton, uses much less water than organic cotton. This has been proven false on so many occasions as to place it in the realms of farming fantasy. A study in the USA that used the same basic measurement for organically grown cotton as it did for chemically grown cotton found that for an average sized T-shirt there was a saving of 7600 litres. This figure speaks for itself.

Organic cotton farming is still in its fledgling stages and there are many hurdles yet to jump in order for it to take its rightful place in the sphere of cotton growing.

If consumers of cotton based products are made aware of as many facts as possible, that will allow them to have an informed choice with regards their potential purchases and thus their conscientious use of their voting dollars then that must be considered a step in the right direction.

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

AN AUSTRALIAN DESIGN

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