Why explains Dr. Keshav Kranthi*: “India has the largest cotton area in the world. Climatic factors are most ideally suited for cotton cultivation. There is tremendous scope for the country to emerge as the global leader. However, progress is being hampered by incorrect technological options that do not match the conditions.
Clearly there is a need to move away from the existing systems towards alternative approaches that can lead towards high yields coupled with low production costs and sustainable technologies.
During 2006-2015 yields in India ranged from 484 to 566 Kg lint per hectar. By comparison in recent years, national average yields in Australia, Brazil, China, Turkey, Mexico and Israel crossed 1500 kg lint per hectare. It is worth examining the key technologies that are pursued by these countries which could then be used in India and other countries that have a large cotton acreage in choosing only those technologies that are most appropriate for their needs and local conditions, with focus on sustainability. Sustainable production technologies, that are being followed in China, Australia, Turkey and Brazil are:
- Breeding of sympodial, short-internode, compact architecture varieties suited for high density planting and machine picking.
- Breeding of short duration (150-160 days) varieties with high harvest index of 0.8 to 1.0 coupled with robust seedling and root vigor.
- High density planting at 168,000 to 330,000 plants per hectare.
- Cropping systems with legume crops for nitrogen-fixing and high residue cover in conservation tillage, crop residue mulching etc.,
- Canopy management for better sunlight penetration, through manual intervention (China & Turkey) or chemicals (Brazil and Australia).
- Least early season insecticide applications and careful choice of ‘biocontrol-friendly’ insecticides like in Australia and Turkey for highly efficient season-long pest management through conservation of naturally occurring biological control.
- Focus on soil health management practices and maximizing the use-efficiency of water, manures, fertilizers, pesticides and biological resources.
- Enhancing efficiency of nutrients, water and insecticides by implementing INM (Integrated Nutrient Management), IWM (integrated water management), IRM (Insect Resistance Management) and IPM (Integrated Pest Management) strategies.
*Dr. Keshav Kranthi, serves as Director ICAR-Central Institute for Cotton Research, Nagpur, Maharashtra India. Recently he was appointed as Head of Technical Information Service at the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) where he will take office in April 2017
Source: Bremen Cotton Report 49-50-16