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CRDC Research & Development


CRDC delivers outcomes in cotton research, development and extension (RD&E) for the Australian cotton industry.

Our investments are governed by a five-year strategic plan, and in 2018-19, CRDC’s new Strategic RD&E Plan 2018-23 comes into effect. 

The new plan builds on the success of the preceding five-year plan and provides an ambitious roadmap for CRDC’s investments. Through this plan, our aim is to contribute to creating $2 billion in additional gross value of cotton production for the benefit of Australian cotton growers and the wider community.

As such, the 2018-19 year marks a crucial year for CRDC in ensuring the first round of strategic RD&E investments under this plan help set the direction for the Australian cotton industry – one of innovation, increased commercialisation and digital transformation.

To help achieve this, Australian cotton growers and the Commonwealth Government will co-invest $24.3 million through CRDC into cotton RD&E during 2018-19, across approximately 300 projects and in collaboration with around 100 research partners.

Setting the RD&E priorities

CRDC works with the Australian cotton industry to determine the sector’s key RD&E priorities; with Government to determine its overarching rural RD&E priorities; and with both the industry and Government to determine the Cotton Sector RD&E Strategy.

In turn, these priorities help to shape CRDC’s strategic RD&E priorities, which are formalised under the Strategic RD&E Plan.


CRDC is funded through an R&D levy, which all growers pay (the levy equates to $2.25 for each 227 kilogram bale of cotton; or $4.06 per tonne of exported seed cotton), with the Government matching the funds dollar-for-dollar. 

Over the past 28 years, over $320 million has been invested in cotton RD&E by growers and the Government – and it has been estimated that the return on investment for growers is $7 in benefits for every $1 invested. 

Current investments

In 2018-19, CRDC is investing in approximately 300 R&D projects under the five Strategic Plan goals. The full list is available here: CRDC RD&E Investments

Strategic RD&E Plan goals

CRDC has documented five strategic outcomes that it seeks to achieve under the 2018-23 Strategic RD&E Plan, which in turn are the key focus areas for RD&E investment over the plan's five years:

  • Goal 1: Increasing productivity and profitability on Australian cotton farms;
  • Goal 2: Improving cotton farming sustainability and value chain competitiveness;
  • Goal 3: Building the adaptive capacity of the Australian cotton industry;
  • Enabling Strategy 1: Strengthening partnerships and adoption; and
  • Enabling Strategy 2: Driving RD&E impact.

For more information on each of the goals, and their associated key focus areas, click through to the relevant tabs in this section. 

Rural R&D for Profit

The Australian Government's Rural Research and Development (R&D) for Profit program aims to boost funding to the rural research and development corporations (RDCs, of which CRDC is one) for nationally coordinated, strategic research that delivers real outcomes for Australian farmers.

CRDC leads three projects under the Rural R&D for Profit program:

  • Smarter Irrigation for Profit;
  • Accelerating Precision Agriculture to Decision Agriculture; and
  • More Profit from Nitrogen: enhancing the nutrient use efficiency of intensive cropping and pasture systems. 

Smarter Irrigation for Profit

The Smarter Irrigation for Profit project aims to improve the profit of 3,000 cotton, dairy, rice and sugar irrigators, with the support of 16 R&D partners and 19 farmer irrigation technology learning sites.

The project commenced in July 2015. It is a partnership between the major irrigation industries of cotton, dairy, rice and sugar, led by CRDC in conjunction with fellow RDCs Dairy Australia, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and Sugar Research Australia, plus other research partners. 

For more on this project click here, or contact project lead Guy Roth.

Accelerating Precision Agriculture to Decision Agriculture

The Accelerating Precision Agriculture to Decision Agriculture project aims to capitalise on the big data opportunities for Australian agriculture and to transition a range of agricultural industries from precision to decision agriculture. The project will design a solution for the use of big data in agriculture. 

The project commenced in July 2016. It is a partnership between all 15 RDCs, led by CRDC, and involving other research partners.

For more on this project click here, or contact project lead Rohan Rainbow

More Profit from Nitrogen

The More Profit from Nitrogen project aims to improve the efficient use of nitrogen in the irrigated cotton, dairy, cherry, mango and sugar industries. It aims to improve the nitrogen productivity of 600 irrigated cotton growers, the profit of 500 dairy farmers, the yield of sugar growers, and the yield, fruit quality, storage and packout for 400 Australian cherry and 650 mango growers. It will also help these industries mitigate the extent and impact of off-farm nutrients on water quality.

The project commenced in July 2016. It is led by CRDC, in partnership with fellow RDCs, Dairy Australia, Sugar Research Australia, and Horticulture Innovation Australia, and other research partners.

For more on this project click here, or contact project lead Marguerite White.