Bless your Cotton Socks — Agriculture Lessons!

Cotton is one of the most important resources in the Australian agriculture industry. We sat down with Jenny from Cotton Australia to understand what cotton is, how it’s grown and why it’s so important.

Code Club: Hi Jenny, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us all about cotton!

Jenny: Thank you for having me, and my pleasure. I get to talk to lots of people about cotton in my job, but I’m really excited about this chat about cotton and coding!

Code Club: Us too! Can you tell us about why cotton is so important in the Australian agriculture industry?

Jenny: Cotton is a huge part of the agriculture industry. More than 12,000 people are employed on cotton farms, and it is one of the most widely produced natural fibres in the world!

Lots of things are made from cotton lint, including clothes, towels, canvas tents and more. Cotton is also used to make cotton seed oil, and cotton seed is used as feed for farm animals. Nothing goes to waste!

One of the amazing things about cotton is how water efficient it is. As a desert plant, it is perfectly suited to some of the climates here in Australia, with some cotton this is rain-fed, needing no irrigation at all.

Code Club: Cool! And what does the cotton plant look like?

Jenny: The cotton plant is grown in rows of shrubs that grow to about 1.2 metres high. The plant has flower buds, which are called squares, that then drop off leaving the seed pod that becomes a cotton boll after pollination.

This is the part of the process that the Code Club lesson covers — from flowering, to harvesting — as the squares turn into bolls.

Code Club: So, we’ve made this cotton game for kids to create. How accurate is it really?

Jenny: Hmmm, well it’s fairly accurate. Most farmers probably don’t use a water glass to water their crops!

Code Club: Lots of the kids that will use this lesson are interested in technology. How do cotton farmers use technology?

Jenny: Technology and innovation are at the core of producing some of the world’s best cotton. Compared to 1992 it now takes 97% less pesticides, 48% less water and 34% less land to grow a bale of Australian cotton. The use of sensors to monitor soil moisture, drip irrigation and apps to notify farmers about the plants needs all help production. Drones can be used to map soil types or sometimes distribute beneficial insects across a large paddock of cotton so they can gobble up the bad bugs. But in the long run, farmers need to be out in the paddock regularly to check the cotton for any emerging issues.

Code Club: Awesome! There’s so much opportunity for farmers and technologists to work together to build effective farming practices! Thanks so much for chatting with us about cotton!

If you’re interested in learning more about cotton, head to Cotton Australia to find out more.

If you’re looking for further educational resources on cotton and other agriculture industries, as well as Science curriculum matching, head to Primezone — https://www.primezone.edu.au/?s=cotton

If you’d like to learn about technology and coding in other Agriculture industries, head to our blog for more info — https://medium.com/code-club-australia

And don’t miss the other coding lessons that are part of this module at https://codeclubau.org/projects/topics/agriculture/

All the lessons are free and matched the Digital Technologies curriculum.

(All images in this post are from the Cotton Australia website)

Register your free Code Club and getting kids coding in your community — codeclubau.org

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Code Club Australia

Code Club Australia is a nationwide network of free coding clubs for children aged 8–13. https://codeclubau.org/