Skip to content
  • Home
  • Thesis Topics
  • Understanding the Adaptive Capacity of the Cotton Industry Under Climate Variability and Water Policy

Research Thesis Topic

Understanding the Adaptive Capacity of the Cotton Industry Under Climate Variability and Water Policy

Topic ID:

Thesis Topic/Title:
Understanding the Adaptive Capacity of the Cotton Industry Under Climate Variability and Water Policy


Climate is one of the fundamental factors that determine where different types of agriculture, forestry and freshwater aquaculture can be successfully pursued. For primary industries such as the cotton industry, climate conditions, including variability, determine annual production and actual profitability. Australia’s cotton production relies largely on irrigated areas: about 400,000 ha of irrigated cotton is grown (depending on water availability), compared to 5,000-120,000 ha for dry land cotton. Along with adequate nutrition, water availability is very important to achieving adequate yields (high quantity and god fibre quality) in cotton. In Australia, cotton is grown in a region with the highest levels of climate variability in the country which has required farmers to have a relatively high ability to diversify. Such growing conditions have led to significant levels of adaptive capacity and considerable adaptation have been achieved over the past decades. Although these characteristics will support ongoing effective responses to climate variability and change, any adaptation strategies need to be considered in the context of other environmental, social, and economic and political frameworks. They will be most effective if they can also integrate multiple risks from a range of interacting processes across spatial and temporal scales.

The multifaceted biophysical impacts of climate variability on cotton production are complex, geographically varied, and encumbered with varying degrees of uncertainty. Experience in undertaking production system and transformational changes is also limited, and many transformational changes will involve unknown and unpredictable risks to the personal and financial well-being of the people and communities directly involved, and to investment in land development, and production infrastructure. Given primary industry responses to climate variability/change impacts move from adjusting current practices to changing production systems or transforming industries, the complexity, cost and risk of climate-driven enterprise changes will increase. There is therefore a need to actively engage in the research required to support incremental adaptations to climate, system and transformative changes in the future so as to ensure the cotton industry is able to continue adapting to climate change impacts in the longer term.

This PhD will investigate adaptation pathways and water management systems (namely irrigation control systems) in Cotton industry. Outcomes from different scenarios will help to developing regionally-specific pathways and maintaining or increasing the profitability and sustainability of cotton production and related industry and communities.

Principal Supervisor

Associate Supervisors

Research Affiliations
  • International Centre for Applied Climate Sciences
  • National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture

Field of Research
  • Agriculture, Land and Farm Management
  • Applied Economics
  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Environmental Science and Management

Available Academic Programs
  • Doctor of Philosophy (DPHD)

Application Open Date

Application Close Date

USQ Scholarship Applications

Pre-approved for Ethics

Admission Requirements

Please review the admission requirements for the academic program associated with this Thesis Topic

Back to List