Growers standing in field

Who sets cotton’s research priorities?


Are you a grower and wondered who decides the industry’s research, development and extension (RD&E) priorities? The good news is, it’s you! But how, you ask?

CRDC Executive Director Allan Williams says it’s important that growers know their voices can be heard, and that he and the Innovation team at CRDC are listening.

“We really want growers to know that our team is always accessible and we want to hear their issues, wins and emerging scenarios,” Allan said. 

“Our team of Innovation Brokers are all specialists in cotton RD&E, with impressive experience at many levels of the industry, including in the field.

“They bring with them a deep understanding of cotton growing in Australia, yet do rely on growers to keep them informed about what’s happening at the coal face.”

There are five ways for growers to contribute to setting research priorities:

  • Join your local Cotton Grower Association and become the nominee to attend the twice yearly Cotton Australia/CRDC research priority forums (generally held May/June and November in Sydney or Brisbane) 

  • Talk directly to a CRDC Innovation Broker 

  • Submit your thoughts/comments/suggestions via this page on our website

  • Talk to a CottonInfo Regional Extension Officer (REO) or Cotton Australia Regional Manager

  • Take part in CRDC’s annual Grower Survey, the results of which help inform RD&E priority setting.

The investment process

The process of deciding where to invest CRDC’s annual RD&E funding is a collaborative one.

CRDC works closely with the industry’s peak representative body, Cotton Australia, and the Australian Government on an annual basis to identify and evaluate cotton’s requirements for RD&E. Cotton Australia and theme-level advisory committees provide advice to CRDC on research projects and where research dollars should be invested, guided by the priorities established in the 2023–28 Strategic RD&E Plan, Clever Cotton

CRDC and Cotton Australia hold two annual research priority forums, bringing together growers from across all cotton growing valleys to identify the gaps in the existing research portfolio and opportunities for new research. These Cotton Australia/CRDC forums are supported by various grower advisory committees on specific areas of research plus forums with research partners to identify emerging research issues and blue sky ideas. 

After consulting with growers, researchers, Cotton Australia and the government, CRDC then determines investment priorities through the development of Investment Plans and Theme Plans, which are signed off by the CRDC Board. CRDC then calls for interested researchers to submit applications, and the proposals are assessed. 

As part of determining which proposals are successful, CRDC again undertakes a process of consultation with growers. The final investment decision-making authority rests with the CRDC Board. Once approved by the Board, successful proposals become contracted projects with CRDC. 

“Importantly, every piece of research that CRDC invests in is done so in partnership with growers, the Government and our research partners,” said Merry Conaty, CRDC’s General Manager, Innovation. 

“Under Clever Cotton, we’re focusing on delivering large-scale investments, providing better solutions for complex problems, and having a greater impact for the industry.”

2024–25 R&D priorities

The 2024–25 priorities forum, held in June 2023, identified a range of broad areas of focus for future RD&E investment, including: 

  • The management of disease and the impact of disease on productivity and profitability (in particular Verticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt and black root rot).
  • Constraints to production from soil condition, especially soil compaction and declining soil health.
  • The better use and integration of data collected on farm to support decision making and on farm management.
  • The management of pests (especially silverleaf whitefly, mirids and mealy bugs), integrated pest management, and understanding of how to minimise insect pest damage to yield and fibre quality.
  • The management of water, including automation, optimisation, improved scheduling technology, and strategies to reduce evaporation from storages.
  • The management of input costs, especially fertilisers (with a focus on how to increase the effectiveness of applied nutrients through better decision making).
  • The calculation of carbon emissions from cotton production, especially greenhouse gas emissions driven by on-farm management, and how to transition to a low carbon farming system.
  • The measurement and management of biodiversity, including habitat provision in riparian areas and weed management in remnant vegetation.
  • Capacity both on farm and off, and the difficulty in attracting and retaining staff.

During 2024-25, CRDC will be investing in projects to address these key needs. Click here to see the full list of current and planned 2024-25 investments.