Going Green

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Organic Cotton Production

Although I believe it fills a valid niche, organic production cannot replace current production practices. The yields cited in this article of approximately 1.2 bales/acre could never fill the world's needs for cotton. Unless tremendous advances can be made in sustainable techniques for organic production, it will always be relegated to niche markets. That being said, I do applaud the desire to do minimal harm to the environment. I think that precision application techniques and technology for modern production inputs can accomplish the same thing without the negative impact to yield.

If all production of cotton was converted to organic, we couldn't fill the world demand for cotton without chopping down about half of the rainforests of the world and converting it to cotton acreage. I suspect that would not set well with the very individuals who believe that organic production practices are the solution to the world's environmental problems. Cotton, being a natural fibre, is certainly better for the environment than rayon, or nylon, or any of the other synthetics that are out there.

U.S. Organic Cotton Production Trends: U.S. Acreage of Organic Cotton Gains Ground

By Organic Trade Association

GREENFIELD, Mass., Dec. 31 --U.S. acreage planted to organic cotton in 2006 increased 14% from that planted the previous year, according to a 2007 survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and funded by a grant from Cotton Incorporated.

In results released today, the survey of organic cotton farmers from California, Arizona, Missouri, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Texas, revealed...(complete article here).


bigwhitehat said...

You know, moving any crops to organic methods requires variations that work well both with the soil and with the given organic methods.

I wonder if a fella could get higher yields.

Panhandle Poet said...

BWH: It takes years of soil conditioning with organic fertilizers such as manure and legumes to get it into shape to go "organic." There is also the issue of pests. Without chemical control it is necessary to create pest buffer zones such as border plantings that attract beneficial insects. Not only are the insect pests an issue, there are also various plant diseases and fungi that will attack. New plant varieties can help with these issues but most new varieties are genetically modified. Would GM plants qualify as organic? Organic production takes a totally different mindset than typical farming methods require. It is a "whole farm" or holistic approach. Maybe I'm pessimistic, but I don't see much chance of yields ever approaching the levels that we currently see with modern farming methods.