Expenditures on insect control in cotton are essentially unchanged at about 16 or 17 cents per kilogram of cotton over the last decade, despite inflation in chemical prices. However, as a percent of total production costs, insecticides are declining.
The latest ICAC survey of the cost of production shows that an average of 16 cents were spent on insecticides themselves and their application on cotton per kilogram of lint in 20012/13. Expenditures on insect control in 2012/13 represented 11% of the net cost of cotton production. During 2000/01, expenditures on insecticides and applications averaged 17 cents per kilogram of production, but those expenditures represented 21% of the net cost of production at that time.
Pesticides include herbicides to control weeds, insecticides to control arthropods, fungicides to control diseases and various other chemicals to control secondary pests. According to Cropnosis, an agricultural chemical research company in the United Kingdom, cotton’s share of world sales of plant protection chemicals by value fell to 6.2% in 2012, down from 6.5% in 2011 and down from 11% in 1991. Cotton production accounted for 4.2% of herbicide applications and 17.5% of world insecticide sales in 2012.
Survey data indicate that in general, problems associated with insect control in cotton are improving around the world. Integrated pest management strategies, including reduced chemical use, use of chemicals with reduced toxicity and persistence, use of chemicals more precisely targeted at specific pests and more efficient application methods, are contributing to the reduction in insecticide costs as a share of total costs. A surge in the use of biotechnology in cotton has also lowered insecticide use; about three-fourths of world cotton is now produced with varieties with biotech traits.
The ICAC undertakes a survey of the cost of production of raw cotton every three years. The latest report contains data for 2012/13 and will be released at the 72nd Plenary Meeting of the ICAC to be held in Colombia from September 29 to October 4, 2013.