IOT in Cotton farming and factors affecting Growth of Cotton

IOT in Cotton farming and factors Affecting Growth of Cotton

Cotton is a kharif crop which is used in cloth making and textile industry. Being an important cash crop, it requires proper care. History of cotton is from 5000 B.C when cotton was found in Mexico.  

Cotton having such importance cannot taken for granted. The excess use of pesticides and fertilizers have made the soil and cotton quality decreased to a very large extend. To regain the lost in cotton the major steps should be taken by limiting the usage of such products that could be harmful for future growth. 

The study entitled “IOT in Cotton farming and factors affecting Growth of Cotton” will show you how technologies could be the vital part of the farming culture. Cotton is the crop that requires monitoring and controlling in order to achieve better growth and yield.  

Hence, the IOT being the trend of today’s world has captured the agriculture field and is emerging to great extent. Various Challenges faced by farmer in Cotton farming can find solutions through IOT as explained in detail in the report.

The study was based on the Secondary data that were relevant to the study. The factors such as temperature, humidity, soil moisture, soil temperature, etc were also studied for the cotton crop. 


Introduction: IoT (Internet of Things)  

IoT is a web of physical objects/things that consists of sensors, software or any technologies embedded to them. It helps to share data and information in a form of connection and device via internet. In simple words, IoTs connects one object with another object at anytime and anywhere using any service, network or path. Example smartwatches, wireless trackers, etc. Currently the market is said to be filled with more than 7 billion connected IoT devices and predicted to grow to 22 billion by 2025. Due to high riser in the usage of IoT agriculture sector also is trying to adopt the technology for there use. IoTs has capacity to strengthen and
enhance agriculture by examining various parameters involved in farming. 

Introduction: Cotton 

Cotton is one the widespread profitable non-food crop in world and most important fibers and cash crop. It provides basic raw material to cotton textile industry. It employs directly and indirectly more than 60 million persons in its production, processing and marketing. In India cotton is cultivated in 9 million hectares in varied agro-climatic conditions across nine major States.   

Indian scenario of Cotton Farming 

India has the largest area under cotton cultivation which is about 41% of the world area under cotton cultivation approximately 13 million hectares. Till 1970s India used to import massive amount of cotton annually. However, after which government announced special schemes that helped in increase in area and sowing of hybrid varieties were approved around mid-70s.  

Since launch of technology mission on cotton by government of India in February 2000 helped in massive developments in increasing yield and production, appropriate transfer of technology, better farm management practices, increased area under cultivation of BT cotton hybrids, increasing in high yielding varieties, etc. All these developments helped in increasing cotton production in India. Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh are the major cotton producing states in India. 

Year Area in hectares Production in lakh bales of 170 kgs Yield kgs per hectare
Major Challenges Faced in Cotton Farming:
  •  Climatic conditions 
  • Inappropriate use to pesticides and fertilizers 
  • Attack of pest and diseases 
  • Low income of small farm holders 
  • Low price due to quality issues
  • Higher labour cost
  • Soil depletion  


 Objective of the study: 

a)     To study how IoT plays significant role in cotton farming. 

b)    To study how different parameters affect growth of cotton. 

c)     To analyse requirement of different parameter at different growth stages. 

Objective 1: To study how IoT plays significant role in Cotton Farming.  

IoT in agriculture is used in various operations from sowing to harvesting to processing to delivering to customers. IoT in agriculture is to be considered as an ideal solution in the area of monitoring and controlling. It helps an agriculturist in decision making by analysing the remote data. IoT in agriculture primary focuses on monitoring, controlling and tracking which gives several variables: 

       Temperature Monitoring 

       Air Monitoring 

       Humidity Monitoring 

       Soil Monitoring 

       Irrigation Monitoring and Controlling 

       Animal Monitoring and Tracking 


       Diseases Monitoring 

       Pest Controlling 

       Location Tracking 

       Field Tracking 

The various application of IoT also applies to the Cotton Farming as well. There has been various technologies and solutions in order to overcome the challenges faced. Knowing more about challenges and their solutions could help the farmers. The Main focus is on the IOT application in cotton farming and how it can overcome the challenges faced. 

1.     Inappropriate use of pesticides and fertilizers:  

The excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers can seriously affect the water resources and decreases soil fertility. It also effects the human health and biodiversity in the long run. To avoid such problems and issues it is important to use fertilizers and pesticides in limited about or as required and not in excess amount. Fertilization system can be installed in fields which would spread fertilizers directly to the roots. This will reduce the amount of fertilizer needed and simultaneously decrease the cost and improves soil health. 

Remote sensing technology can be widely used in order to monitor the pest and suggest pest management strategies. This could not only increase yield but also great solution to many other problems causing. 

2.     Soil depletion 

Soil depletion is the condition when the components contribution for soil fertility gets removed due to any reason and doesn’t get replaced back. It may be caused due to various reasons. Major reasons are soil erosion, water logging, improper cultivation practices, excess irrigation. All the factors mentioned can be tracked with the Soil sensor that would be helpful in regaining the soil quality. 

3.     Climatic conditions:  

Motoring of weather condition at particular location can be done and data could be accessible throughout the world. The data received is processed and communicated via networking to cloud and it is stored in could. The data can be accessible at any internet available in the world. Parameters like temperature, humidity, pressure, rainfall can be controlled using environment and weather monitoring system that consist of humidity and temperature sensor, pressure sensor. The data stored in cloud can be useful for future references too. 

4.     Attack of pests and diseases:  

Pink bollworm is the major pest that attacks cotton that is found worldwide. Hence, to detect pink bollworm at early stage becomes of vital importance in order to control the deterioration of cotton boll quantity and quality. Remote sensing could help in detection of pest and diseases. The various wavelengths and reflection from farm help to detect the pests. The hyperspectral data is useful to detect Pink bollworm and recognize the level of infection.  

5.     Higher labour cost:  

The major reason for higher labour cost is the harvesting of cotton. Cotton is picked by human hands which has major disadvantages. Firstly, takes ample number of days to complete harvesting. Secondly, increases the cost of harvesting. Lastly, Sudden rains could affect harvesting. To solve major problems faced, cotton picker machine could be used in order to harvest the cotton. To build such machine issue faced is that cotton grows at very different heights. For a machine to detect it is a huge task. Hence, use of image processing and sensors the machine could detect the cotton making piking process much easier. 


Objective 2: To study how different parameters affect growth of cotton.  

a)     Rainfall: The optimum rainfall requirement for cotton growth is said to be 150200 cm. the initial germination stage only requires rainfall where as rainfall during later stages could result in decrease in yield. Specially during the harvest period, the rainfall can damage crops at very severe rate. Hence, sowing at right time is recommended. In India it is sown during April-May and harvested in December-January that is before winter as winter frost can damage the crops. 

b)    Soil pH:  Cotton generally requires deep, fertile sandy loam soil with good drainage facilities for better growth. Seed germination in sandy soil or clay soil creates a problem. For cotton cultivation the soil should not be alkaline or saline. Cotton is recommended to grow in soil with pH between 6.0 to 8.0. when the soil pH decreases below 5.5 or above 8.5 it severely effects the yield of cotton. In such cases, soil amendments are recommended to improve soil condition. 

c)     Soil Moisture: Cotton being the drought tolerant crop has a wide range of soil moisture requirement. Hence the water requirement varies from 400-800 mm depending upon different conditions. In terms of percentage of total seasonal water use, crop water requirement is 20 % till 1st flower, 40 % during 1st flower to peak flower, 30 % during peak flower to bursting of few bolls and only 10 % till maturity. In case of excess soil moisture content, it causes increase in fruit shed due to decrease in oxygen level of the soil. Also, decrease in soil moisture content of soil results in ageing of leaves and further causing shed. 

d)    Soil Temperature: Soil temperature majorly effects the seed germination. Higher soil temperature can achieve early germination which ruins the growth stages of cotton. Similarly, if maintained low soil temperature it may take more days to emerge. Hence, soil temperature must be maintained at the time to germination stage above 64°F and in case of poor-quality seeds 70°F can be better target. 

e)     Air Humidity: Humidity mainly affects the colour and quality of cotton. As we know that humid conditions are preferable for growth of microorganisms which can led to deterioration and discoloration of cotton fiber. It can also increase the attack to pest and diseases. Hence relative humidity of the air must be below 70%. 

f)     Air Temperature: Cotton requires warm days and relatively warm nights for optimum growth. The minimum temperature during germination is expected to be around 18°C and during crop growth above 25°C. However, high temperature during middle stages effects the fertilization rate, cotton boll volume and quantity of cottonseed buds. Exposure to high temperature (>35°C) limits the growth and development of cotton. If the temperature reaches below 20°C during flowering and ball phases it would result in slow growth. The seedlings must be protected from cold weather in order to avoid deterioration in fiber quality and yield. 

g)    Light Intensity: High light intensity is required for the proper growth of cotton throughout all stages. High sunlight produces sugars which helps in boll development and foliage. Whereas low light intensity can cause reduction in boll development and eventually result in low quality. 

Objective 3: To analyse requirement of different parameter at different growth stages 

Cotton being a slow growing plant takes at least 160 frost-free days to grow. It can grow maximum up to 6 feet height. According to the National Cotton Council of America, the developmental phases of cotton can be divided into five main growth stages: 

1.     Germination and emergence 

2.     Seedling establishment 

3.     Leaf area and canopy development 

4.     Flowering and boll development 

5.     Maturation  

However, there isn’t sharp changes in this stages that could be seen clearly. Farmers understanding the cotton growth and requirement at different stages can solve many problems in crop management, that can result in high yield and profits. Certain requirement at different growth stages is explained below. 

ª  Temperature: During planting of seed the minimum soil temperature required is 18°C. Decrease in temperature affects the emergence time and in long run result in decrease in final yield. The optimum temperature required at all growth stages is above 60°F.  

Growth Stages Temperature
Germination ad emergence
Seedling establishment
21°C - 27°C
Leaf Area and Canopy development
27°C - 32°C
Flowering and boll development
27°C - 32°C
21°C - 32°C

ª  Water requirement: The water use in cotton increases progressively,

Growth Stages Water required
Germination ad emergence
2.5 mm/day
Seedling establishment
2.5 to 6.5 mm/day
Leaf Area and Canopy development
6.2 to 10 mm/day
Flowering and boll development
5.1 mm/day
2.0 mm/day

According to trail conducted by CICR, the application of 80 ha-cm of water through drip with 75% RDF (refused derived fuel) recorded highest number of bolls and seed cotton yield which indicated saving of 25% in fertilizer cost. Drip irrigation increases yield as compared to surface irrigation by 11 to 20%. Irrigation timing differs due to variability in rainfall. 

ª  Soil pH: Soil pH during all the growth stages of cotton must be maintained between 6.0 to

8.0. the optimum pH is between 6.0 to 6.5. 

ª  Light intensity: Cotton requires high light intensity throughout the day. It is suggested to give maximum light possible for faster growth. At all growth stages the amount of light intensity should be high for higher boll development and growth.  

ª  NPK:  According to a research article, higher yield of cotton was found when NPK was used with 75, 50 and 50 kg/ha. Also, the yield was lower for cotton where NPK was used as 100, 50 and 50 kg/ha. The lowest yield was found to be for the cotton where no chemical fertilizers were applied. Hence, limited use of fertilizers helps in increasing the yield. 

ª  Humidity:  The optimum humidity requirement is below 70%. Depending upon the humid  climate the humidity must be maintained. 


Cotton being widely used all over the world has still been facing many challenges in farming activities. Overcoming the challenges and farming in right direction is what one should look for. Keeping the challenges in mind, this study includes all the information on how IOT could change the scenario of cotton farming. Unlike any other crop, cotton requires optimum temperature, rainfall, soil moisture, Humidity, pH and Light intensity.  From this study it was observed that at different growth stages of cotton it required different amount of temperature and water for better growth and high yield. However, humidity, pH and light intensity are to be maintained throughout all growth stages as below 70%, 6.0 to 8.0 and high sunlight respectively. With the advance technologies in maintaining the conditions would be helpful in increasing the growth of cotton. Excess of any thing could be harmful for the crops. To do the same technologies like remote sensing and sensors could be used. This study also resulted in that the use of Sensors such as Temperature and humidity sensor, Light sensor, soil moisture sensor, fertilization sensor and satellite mapping could be used. The major issue faced toward is the labour cost which increases due to hand harvesting of cotton. Mechanization in harvesting of cotton can be done by image processing and sensors that will make the work easier.  

We will continue our research work further to other crops too and will keep on posting our findings as well.

We will keep posting about any such informative information on to our blogs, to help as many people as possible. Farmonaut is built upon a vision to bridge the technological gap between farmers and strives to bring state-of-the-art technologies in the hands of each and every farmer. For any queries/suggestions, please contact us at [email protected].
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