Cashing in on Cotton: 4 Tips to Increase your Cotton Yield

Ramesh Rathod
Cotton has a potential to lift millions out of poverty.

Cotton is one of the most important cash crops of India, playing a dominant role in the agricultural economy of the country; providing a direct livelihood to 6 million farmers and about 40 -50 million people who are employed in the cotton trade and its processing. Cotton has the potential to lift millions out of poverty.

But cotton is susceptible to a range of pests, and is highly vulnerable to diseases and weed infestations. As such, many marginal farmers struggle to optimise crop yield and reap the subsequent profits from this potentially lucrative crop. 

By harnessing a few simple measures however, farmers can go a long way in increasing both the quality and quantity of their cotton production, and reap the benefits as a result.

1. Test Your Soil

Soil is one of the fundamental assets of any farmer. It is also the most neglected and unknown resource. The result is that most farms in India have poor soil health, resulting in poor yields and leading to depletion of soils, wind erosion, surface runoff, and land degradation.  By identifying and analysing the soil type, maintaining and enhancing soil fertility and improving nutrient cycling, farmers can increase the quality and quantity of their cotton yield. By conducting soil testing, farmers can better understand the needs and requirements of the soil and take informed decisions about the kind of inputs required to boost soil health.

2. Select Appropriate Seed Variety

Select seeds based on the unique topography of your region, identifying seeds that are pest resistant and have higher yields. When it comes to variety selection, farmers have to do their homework.  There is great benefit in studying the available data and assessing that with their own direct experiences and local conditions to find the varieties that will work best for them.

3. Adopt Drip Irrigation

Maintaining moisture levels in the cotton field is a key challenge farmers face in India, making crops vulnerable to pests and disease. Flood irrigation and erratic climatic events often lead to water logging and associated problems of too much soil moisture (pests and disease).  Drip irrigation is an effective technology to maintain moisture levels in a targeted manner, directly at the root of plants, whilst helping increase the efficiency of water in cotton production.  Drip Irrigation also provides a mechanism for the judicious use of soil fertiliser.  By adopting water soluble fertilisers that are applied via drip irrigation, farmers can reduce the amount of fertiliser required.  Similarly, application of fungicide to tackle issues of Root Rot can also be harnessed via drip irrigation, reducing disease incidence and the time and costs associated with it. 

4. Use Organic Pesticide

A range of techniques are available to control and manage pests in cotton. However, the use of synthetic pesticides is the dominant form of crop protection in India. Inappropriate and improper use of pesticides not only impacts soil and plant health, but also human health, and leads to contamination of water sources and other food crops.  By harnessing organic impacts like bio pesticide farmers can not only control pests, but minimise the damage and input expense of synthetic pesticides and also improve quality of cotton.

By harnessing these 4 techniques, farmers have, and can, optimize their cotton yield and reap the financial rewards of cotton production in India.

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