Monocropping is the traditional agricultural pattern in Africa based on the practice of growing cotton year after year on the same land. This practice is very popular in Africa because it is one of the cost-effective solutions: it allows specialization of equipment and production techniques. African farmers use large amounts of energy to drive tractors and other farm machinery, pump irrigation water, dry crops, and in the form of nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides. Monocropping allows them to save time and energy usually spend on new equipment and new land management (Mshomba and Rienner 45).
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In contrast to cotton Monocropping, organic cotton production is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. This practice allows farmers to reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides and minimize soil depletion. As the most important, organic cotton production allows the combination of different agricultural practices such as cover crops, strip cropping, grazing, crop rotation. The economics of organic farming favors a large-scale shift to such systems. Accordingly, prospects for organic cotton production are sufficiently good to restrain the increase in per acre application of nitrogen fertilizer. Part of the advantage of control by rotation is that it slows the buildup of genetic resistance of the rootworm to insecticides, thus extending the useful economic life of currently used chemicals. This advantage will increase in the future because of the increasing costs of developing new insecticides. The development of cultivars of cotton with greater insect resistance than those now used also has good potential as an insect control strategy. “Cotton, for example, would be but one of several crops an organic farmer would grow” (Guerena and Sullivan 2003).
Organic cotton production proposes more opportunities for African cotton producers and allows them to avoid soil fertility. Judgments about future trends in the number of herbicides applied to crops depend crucially upon prospects for the spread of conservation tillage relative to conventional tillage. “The intercropped field required only one insecticide application, while the monoculture cotton had to be sprayed four times” (Guerena and Sullivan 2003). In contrast to Monocropping, organic cotton production needs biological controls and natural fertilizers. These prospects will be shaped in large part by the comparative economics of cotton production in Africa.
Guerena, M., Sullivan, P. ORGANIC COTTON PRODUCTION. 2003. Web.
Mshomba, R.E., Rienner, L. Africa in the Global Economy. Lynne, 2000.