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What does an irrigated cotton project look like?

An irrigated cotton project reduces emissions by increasing synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency. A project can be run on one cotton farm or on multiple farms, and in any region of the Australian irrigated cotton industry.

During the project, you must undertake at least one new management action to improve the fertiliser use efficiency for your cotton crop. Once you have chosen a new management action, you can repeat the same action during each year of the project if you wish. Management actions are flexible, but can include changes to the rate, timing or method of fertiliser application, and the type of fertiliser used. Only emissions reductions from synthetic nitrogen fertiliser are credited in these projects.

You must not burn any crop residue remaining in the field after harvesting the cotton once you have commenced the project, but any burning conducted in the years preceding the project will not make you ineligible.

The greenhouse gas emissions generated before and after the project begins, as well as the amount of abatement resulting from the project, are calculated using a tool called the Irrigated Cotton Calculator.

Details of what is required for an irrigated cotton project to be considered eligible by the Clean Energy Regulator are in Parts 2 and 3 of the method and Explanatory Statement.

Nitrogen fertilisers

Nitrogen fertiliser is a product used to improve plant growth and soil fertility. It is applied to the soil after the previous crop has been harvested, and before the current cotton crop is harvested.

In irrigated cotton projects, emissions reductions are only credited from the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers. Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser has a product label with a guaranteed minimum nitrogen content. This must be at least 0.5 per cent nitrogen for solid fertiliser, and 0.1 per cent nitrogen for liquid fertiliser or solid fertiliser applied in solution.

Fertilisers such as poultry litter, beef feedlot manure and composted ginning trash are not accounted for in these projects. This is because they are waste products of other industries, and would produce the same amount of emissions whether or not they were used in these projects.

Nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency

Nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency is the lint yield of the cotton crop, divided by the amount of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser applied to the crop.

The irrigated cotton method addresses the problem of nitrogen fertiliser being applied at rates that exceed crop demand. By applying the optimum amount of fertiliser required by the crop, some growers will find they can use less fertiliser to produce the same or greater lint yield. For example, you would increase nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency if your lint yield increased by 20 per cent, while your nitrogen fertiliser use only increased by 15 per cent.

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