Making cotton a sustainable crop

The fact that a crop may become sustainable depends on the technological level implemented for cultivation and the level of excellence used for handling

The key to make cotton a sustainable crop is the integration of several factors such as climate, soil, water availability and social structure, with varietal changes, the use of technological systems of last generation and training agricultural technicians on systems integration.


Cotton production in Spain has been gradually decreasing since 2005 with 86,100 hectares planted, until 2015 in which 64,500 hectares were planted.
The reason for this reduction was on the one hand the implementation in 2006 of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy), and the increasingly negative balance between income and expenses compared to other alternative crops as corn, sugar beet, sunflower or tomato for processing, with higher profitability, reduced risk, and reduced finance requirements that have made them more attractive at the expense of cotton.

The cotton must be sustainable to meet the needs of the gin industry and other ancillary industries of this crop and this is the reason that encouraged us to study agronomy and technology facts that could make cotton sustainable over time against competitors.

In our research into what makes the increasing of sustainability, we found three fundamental factors to re-energize cotton in Spain

  • Changing the germplasm used to achieve varieties.
  • Using the latest technologies applied in irrigation systems.
  • Setting up integrated crop management programs run by technicians.

We evaluated the different factors and their contribution to the success of the sustainability of the project, and we obtained the following percentages:

  • The varietal change provides 60% of success achieved.
  • The implementation of the new generation of irrigation systems provided 25% of success achieved
  • The use of integrated management programs through specialized technicians provided a 15% of the success achieved.
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