adsaleata_201104_CA_1Globally about 36% on the land is used for cotton cultivation. Of this, US cotton cultivation land is only 2.5%. Fixed land and more productivity per hectare of land is the ultimate goal for all cotton producing countries as rise of population and other industries particularly food and food products are much needed for rise of population. Within the limited land available land for cotton cultivation, US ranks as the no 1 cotton producer in the world.

Energy & Water: Cotton produces more net energy throughout the process from cultivation to bale due to the energy stored in the cotton seed. Cotton has neutral Green House Gas (GHG) footprint. The crop actually captures more GHG emission than those emitted.

725 cubic meters of irrigation water is required for one metric ton of cotton fibre and seed produced. (I metric ton=2205 US lbs). The amount of energy conversion to produce cotton crop is equal to the energy in cotton seeds. Global demand for cotton fibres is 70 million metric tons. Non irrigated yield and energy consumption for cotton is comparatively less than irrigated crop but when total yield and energy are compared, results are almost the same.

Ecosystem services: Cotton field provide oxygen, and captures carbon which is vital for wild life habitat. Cotton producers are also involved in several processes designed to protect wild life habitat. To produce I kg of cotton fibre, 1.5 kg cotton seeds are cultivated. Therefore, 1 kg cotton=1100 seeds. Cotton seed contains 14% oil and is also considered as a high value food ingredient. Therefore it is reasonable to claim credit for the energy rooted in cotton seeds.


The amount of CO2 that would be eliminated if biodiesel produced from cotton seed oil, can be replaced with the amount of petroleum based diesel is reasonable to claim energy embodied in cottonseed. If cotton producers use Biodiesel from the GHG emission would be reduced by 0.64 kg of CO2.

Cotton producers are aware of the potential losses associated with Nitrogen application in fertilizer and 73% of them Nitrogen after planting to minimize the loss. 80% of the producers incorporate Nitrogen fertilizers into the soil to minimize losses due to Nitrogen volatilization. Cotton producers use soil testing extensively to determine fertilizer rates to insure proper amount is applied because of more Nitrogen should not go to the soil.


Cotton 001Cotton yield: In US, during 2004, per hectare yield was 933 kgs. Now it has reached more than 1250 kgs. In India, it is hardly 900 kgs. The Gujarat Government, in contract with MANSANOTO a US based company, has experimentally been successful in Banaskanta district. The yield is expected to touch more than 30% per hectare. In Gujarat, it is expected to touch around 1150 kgs/per hectare. Per hectare cotton yield in China, Brazil, South Africa, and Mexico is 1150 kgs. Australia has the highest yield of 1800 kgs.

Seed price today is Rs.900/kgs. Through private suppliers the Gujarat Government is planning to distribute seeds at 25% less price. It is also planning to distribute to Rajasthan and Maharashtra with an intention to encourage farmers to produce more cotton and with expected uniform quality.

The year 2011 -2012 saw the highest exports from India. As of now 120 lakhs bales of cotton are exported, and more is expected from the month of June. Domestic demand is very poor. Exports during the year 2007 -2008 were the highest, but the current year it has surpassed previous highest exports as per available records. Due to surplus cotton, the Gujarat Government is encouraging Ginners to start spinning factories, similar to Andhra Pradesh, where most Ginners have one small spinning unit.

Due to cotton plantation water quality and wild life habitat are in decline due to the overall use of insecticides and pesticides. Before 1998, 30% pesticides were used in India and from 2008 onwards it has fallen to 18% and further will decline. BT cotton improves environmental benefits and pollution is greatly reduced. There is a 23% reduction in insecticides due to the cultivation of BT. cotton; globally.

cotton-fieldGlobal land utilization:

  • 4% land for rayon/acetate
  • 2% land for wool
  • 1% land for others (natural silk, flax, hemp, linen, bamboo)
  • 43% land for synthetic (petroleum product, acrylic, nylon and viscose)
  • 36% land for cotton
  • 14% oil and other eatable value added are produce from cotton seeds.

In Gujarat, cotton cultivated land is 60% and 26% of Indias total land is used for cotton cultivation. This year about 40% of the total cotton was cultivated in Gujarat making almost 350 lakhs bales.

High yield of cotton is achieved by irrigated water but some farmers use reservoir water where less energy is consumed to pump out water but at the same time, yield is lesser than irrigated. Efforts to improve nitrogen use in fertilizer and use water efficiently will make good business. Conservation of energy to produce cotton will minimize expenses for cotton producers.

About the Author:

The author, S.K.Mukherjee is the V.P., Quality Assurance Dept, Acme Intl. Ltd. Ahmedabad