Cotton farming in Russia should be revived under a film: an enthusiast originally from the USSR developed his own technologies

Cotton – one of the most marginal crops in the world-can be grown again in the territory of the Russian Federation, there are plans and prospects

Kasimbek Khalikov for the entire life engaged in the cotton. He considers the Soviet Union his homeland and is engaged in development of productive cultivation of crops specifically for domestic farmers. 

-Cotton guile is a topic that has been close to me since childhood. I was born in Uzbekistan in 1955.  Says Hasenbeck Khalikov. - Everyone knows that Uzbekistan was the main supplier of cotton in the Soviet Union. And since childhood we have been collective farmers. In fact, they studied only in winter, and went out to work in the fields in spring. After a couple of lessons, a truck would pick us up, and we would go out to the fields in our school uniforms (girls in white aprons and boys in white shirts), carrying briefcases. Naturally, our mothers were not happy that their white clothes were getting dirty, but what could we do? Just wash it. 

In autumn, the cotton harvest lasted until the New year. After school, I left Uzbekistan, studied at a University, served, and worked. Then he got married and had children. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, I was repeatedly invited to return to Uzbekistan, but my wife was ill, and I could not leave her. Over time, I returned to the topic of cotton production, as I was invited to participate in the introduction of a new technology for this crop. So I went back to the cotton field. 

GM cotton or organic-what to choose for production?

 - Cotton (cottonseed) – a plant with a very wide range of applications. Countries with large economies, such as the United States, China, Russia, etc., have always been interested in cotton production. Since the 17th century, intelligence agencies have collected data on the amount of cotton purchased.

Previously, the USSR was the leader as the main producer and supplier of cotton to the World market. Then, as we know, the situation changed. And a high-yielding GM cotton crop has appeared on the market. 

I believe that despite the potential benefits of GMO cotton, care must be taken. In my opinion, it is not yet possible to assess the potential environmental imbalance that GMO crops will cause. A real threat is the possible interbreeding with other agricultural crops, if we consider cotton as a non-food crop. It is important to note that by-products obtained as a result of sowing cotton seeds are used as the main source of protein and animal feed in animal husbandry. In Central Asia, it is customary to use cottonseed oil in the preparation of traditional dishes, and as a result, GMO cotton becomes part of the food chain.

Along with GM cotton, there is also organic cotton production. 

While farmers can benefit from higher prices for organically grown cotton, they face a lot of problems with such production. 

First, to obtain a certificate of organic land quality (and therefore cotton), they must not use chemicals or pesticides for at least five years when cultivating their crop. The negative impact of this approach on the crop is obvious, and the farmer faces much higher risks of loss of the entire crop (for example, as a result of pest invasion). 

The main problem for the farmer is that he suffers from low yields, and at the same time can not benefit from the price premium, because his land plot has not received an organic certificate. 

Secondly, when obtaining a certificate of organic land, the farmer can sell his product in a very limited market, i.e., in a market where he has a very weak market position, in order to get a price premium. Of course, he can sell his goods on the General market, but he will get the usual price for it, as a result of which he will suffer losses (due to a reduction in harvests). 

Third, although the farmer may receive a price premium from direct sales, the overall profit from moving the product along the value chain is clearly distributed unevenly among different participants in the supply chain. As a rule, the farmer will be able to sell organic cotton at a price premium of 100-150%, but the final textile / textile product is usually sold at a premium of 600-800%!

In terms of consumer properties, Uzbek cotton fiber today is one of the best. 

Uzbekistan is firmly ranked second in the world in terms of cotton exports and fifth in terms of its production. This is a direct result of President Islam Karimov's policy aimed at consistently implementing economic reforms in the cotton industry and improving the industry's competitiveness. 

Special importance is attached to improving the quality and technical characteristics of cotton. In recent years, domestic breeders have bred a number of new precocious varieties with high yield and fiber length. Today, 18 varieties are being sown in the Republic, zoned in accordance with the soil and climatic conditions of the regions, the properties of which can satisfy different requests of consumers. Among them, we can name such as "Bukhara-6", "Bukhara-8", "S 6524", "Akdarya-6", "Omad". 

Fiber of all varieties grown in the country finds its buyers. The main emphasis is placed on medium-fiber varieties of the fourth type - the demand for them in the world market is the highest, and микронейруthey meet international standards in terms of micronutrients , the main parameter ( the Uzbek standard is "SIFAT").

Growing cotton under film – what are the advantages of the technology and the "pitfalls" of its implementation

 - As we have seen, the main monetary premium is not received by farmers, who often remain at a loss. To help cotton growers I have completed the development of a technology that was started back in Uzbekistan. 

It was based on the idea of cotton growers о том, that sowing under a plastic film is currently one of the most effective methods of growing cotton. 

This method reduces the aging time and allows you to save moisture, since the film does not allow it to evaporate. As a result, the crop can be harvested earlier by 10-20 days compared to open sowing. 

The history of this technology with its actively launched research in Uzbekistan has proved difficult. Unfortunately, thetop positions were occupied not by specialists, but by "budget cutters", as huge amounts of money were allocated. No author control was allowed, although we were legally entitled to author supervision. However, despite all the difficulties, an excellent result was obtained. And then the "undercover games" started again. 

Any work in agriculture or production is always a collective effort, impossible without the participation of soil scientists, seed growers, chemists and meliorators. 

Here is a simple example. One day there was a problem in the field - a sharp overgrowth of a cotton Bush. No one could figure out why. I also managed to find out when I realized during a field survey that during cultivation, an ordinary film was buried in the soil. This led to a thermostatic effect, which provoked the rapid growth of the plant, which is undesirable-delays the maturation of the fruit.

When I explained what the problem was, they immediately organized work to clear the field of film. 

As a result, it turned out that the scientists initially gave incorrect recommendations. They said that plastic wrap is a good way to keep moisture and heat in the soil. But, in my opinion, this advice regarding cotton is not appropriate. First, the sowing mouthpiece will quickly become blunt, and the deformed film refracts the sun's rays and reflects them like glass. 

I recommended using a polymer film, preferably biodegradable, which will then turn into fertilizers. How it was done. During sowing, teenagers walked through the field with a bucket of mulch, a bucket of seeds, spoons and small sticks. Children pinned a film to the soil with a stick, laid seeds and mulch on top. One-sows, the second mulches. As a result, manual labor increased, although it was initially planned that it would decrease by 40%-60%. 

And, as they say, the cherry on the cake. When I came to Uzbekistan in 2012, I learned that the half-developed technology was sold...for $ 250 million! Buyers were promised a hundred or more quintals of cotton per hectare! But to promise is not to marry. Due to lack of readiness, the technology did not pay off. This, of course, is not happy, but it is significant. Everything should be brought to mind!

Observing the principles of environmental safety

 - But let's return to the advantages of the modified and already tested technology. The use of biodegradable film technology reduces water consumption by almost 50 percent or more. 

In normal practice, it is necessary to irrigate until the soil is saturated with a large amount of moisture. 

This gives a negative result in terms of flushing fertilizers and agrochemicals from the soil into deep groundwater. 

Thus, gradually the ground water rises and poisons everything. In Uzbekistan, the consequences of such irrigation are strongly felt by the Republic of Karakalpakistan, the Herazm region Херазмand other regions in the form of an increase in respiratory and lung diseases among citizens. 

The patent that I have protected in Russia takes into account all the details - from seeders, cultivators, and soon .  

If the technology is implemented correctly, we will reduce water and fertilizer consumption by half. Herbicides do not need to be applied at all, since weeds under the film die, and those that remain in the row spacing are destroyed during cultivation. 

Currently, the technology of gentle defoliation of plants without the use of chemicals is being tested. Without defoliation, it is difficult to apply the technique during cleaning. 

The calculation of seeding in one and two rows under the film is made. Now it is up to you to create a fundamentally new new harvesting technique. The one that exists is not suitable for us – it is expensive and ineffective. 

You give cotton-crop yield, farmers-cheap equipment!

 - Therefore, an application has already been submitted for a Universal harvester, which can be used both for conventional sowing, and by sowing under the film in one or two rows, customizable. According to my observations, farmers have to go into loans to buy equipment that can only perform certain tasks. I want to create multi-functional equipment that can be bought by an ordinary peasant. 

Today in Russia, the situation for the production of cotton is such that while the selection is underway – which region is most suitable for this crop. Breeders are working, the matter is moving forward. 

Cheaper equipment would give farmers a trump card.  For example, a harvester manufactured in the United States costs between 450 thousand and 750 thousanddollars, runs for a season and then stands idle. 

This option is not suitable for us. A combine harvester for harvesting cotton should cost in the region of 50 thousand and up to 100 thousand dollars, and no more, and due to removable attachments, it should perform various tasks throughout the season. 

After registering inIn the state register, I want to try to contact officials in the agro-industrial complex for technology support. 

The main taskof reestablishing cotton farming in Russia is to preserve a clean environment and enable villagers to earn money. 

Those who work on the land, тот shouldreceive a good bonus and достойноlive with dignity, without needing anything. 

I remember, how we lived as children. When I left home to go to UNIVERSITY, my mother would borrow money and say, " Son! I wantto you got the knowledge, he always lived honestly!» So I want honest workers to be able to earn an honest living in cotton production!" 

(Author: Hasenbeck Khalikov). 

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