There are lots of places where unwanted cotton clothes could go to escape landfill – the op-shop, a garage sale or turned into rags for tradies. But what about shredding them and putting them back into the soil? And what if, in a world of perfect circularity, that soil was on a cotton farm? Cotton Australia launched just such a trial on Wednesday to see if old cotton textiles – including sheets and worn-out coveralls from state emergency services – could improve the soils on a farm in Goondiwindi, Queensland . Farmer Sam Coulton and his grandson Harry spread two tonnes of shredded cotton on a paddock on Wednesday before the next cotton-growing season. One big advantage that cotton products have over their synthetic, fossil fuel-based counterparts is their natural fibres are generally harmless and can break down in soil. Last year, the industry’s Cotton Research and Development Corporation ran an experiment, burying 2cm-squares of cotton into moist Goondiwindi soil and then incubating it at 20C for almost six months. Lab tests suggested the shredded cotton increased the bacteria and fungus in the soils, had no impact on the germination of seeds and all but the tightest woven cotton […]

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