Agriculture and Environment: Cotton | WWF

Agriculture and Environment: Cotton

Better Management Practices: Promote IPM

Integrated pest management (IPM) for cotton builds on practices that farmers have used for centuries.

These include adopting cultivars that are resistant to pests, altering the time of sowing and harvest to minimise exposure to pests, cultivating to reduce weeds, and removing crop residues.

Reducing pesticide use

Pesticide use can be reduced by carefully monitoring pest levels and by targeting applications. The least toxic pesticide is chosen whenever possible; botanical pesticides such as neem and various tobacco extracts are also used. IPM reduces pests to "economically manageable" levels rather than aiming for complete eradication.

Cultural practices such as crop rotation and intercropping are used to help keep down pest populations. Physical controls such as hand-killing pests and using pheromones to trap pests are also employed when possible so that fewer toxic chemicals are needed (Banuri 1999). IPM, however, does allow the use of standard chemical controls when necessary.

Mutually beneficial

One study in India found that IPM resulted in higher cotton yields and a 28% decline of unit costs (Kishor 1992, as cited in de Vries 1995 and Banuri 1999). In short, using IPM for cotton has been found to be economically and environmentally beneficial.

An added benefit is that IPM generates more employment. Still, most studies about the impacts for cotton are qualitative rather than quantitative, and few long-term studies have been undertaken.

Applications of IPM for cotton have not worked on a broader scale (Banuri 1999), but there has also been little systematic attempt to apply research on IPM that has been undertaken to date.

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