Hemp vs. Cotton: Why the debate?

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The debate between hemp and cotton revolves around these two crops’ environmental, economic, and social impacts. Hemp and cotton are important crops with different characteristics and uses, but they have other effects on the environment and society.

One of the main reasons for the debate is that cotton is known to be one of the most pesticide-intensive crops in the world, with conventional cotton farming using a large amount of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that can harm the environment and human health. Hemp, on the other hand, can be grown with little or no pesticides and can even help to improve soil health.

Another factor is water usage. Cotton is a very thirsty crop and requires much water to grow successfully. In contrast, hemp is a drought-tolerant crop requiring less water than cotton.

You can find a wealth of facts about hemp here.

Market opportunity

hemp vs cotton stock market hemp leaf
Stock market with hemp leaf

Let’s start our hemp vs. cotton discussion concerning the market opportunity.

Almost everyone wears cotton. It is soft, durable, and comfortable. Cotton accounts for 22% of the world’s clothing. After using 2700 square meters of water to create one cotton shirt, the profitability of cotton per acre comes to around $400. Let’s not forget that cotton production accounts for 24% of the world’s pesticide usage.

Contrast this with hemp, which uses 1/3 the amount of water, requires much pesticide usage, and can produce an income of over $800 per acre. After considering this, you can see the opportunities not only from the cost side but also from the environmental side.

From an agricultural standpoint, farmers do not want to waste precious water, pesticides, or costly equipment on their crops if they don’t have to. With hemp, these costs amount to a fraction more than growing cotton.

Click here to learn about using hemp as an agricultural commodity.

Why Should I Care?

hemp vs cotton confused man
Confused man

So, why does any of this matter? Why would you prefer hemp vs. cotton? Well, the benefits are myriad and growing. Hemp is a strong and durable fiber that lasts a long time. Therefore, you do not have to worry about hemp wearing out and looking drab after a few cleanings. 

Hemp is breathable and easy to care for. A unique feature of hemp is its ability to wick away sweat from your body. When you are out on a hot day, hemp will be just as comfortable as cotton, if not more.

Not only does hemp cool you down, it can also keep you warm in the winter. Consider grabbing hemp clothing over cotton when looking at clothes that can give you excellent insulation.

So, think of your favorite shirt that comes out of the wash looking stretched and worn or your cotton slacks that lose their shape. This is fine with hemp because they hold its shape and colors. Hemp clothing is resilient and ready to wear over and over again.  For moms with kids that are brutal with their clothes, hemp presents an alternative that will not break the bank, and each clothing item lasts far longer, giving you more bang for your buck.

Hemp vs. Cotton: Doing Your Part

hemp vs cotton people holding seedling
People holding seedling

One of our biggest concerns is our environment and the planet on which we live. How can hemp help? Because of our busy lives, most of us don’t have the time to consider how best to adjust our lifestyle, and as a result, we don’t even think about it. Should we donate to a charity and pick up some garbage? You might consider cutting out plastics or getting rid of your carbon-emitting vehicle, but that’s not realistic for our modern society.

When it comes to choosing hemp vs. cotton, you are not giving up something to help the environment; rather, you are gaining the added benefits of hemp and helping the planet at the same time. So, what are some of these environmental benefits?

Hemp Uses Less Water

.Some parts of the world have dried up because of cotton production. Hemp is a versatile and sustainable crop using less water than many traditional crops. Some reasons why hemp requires less water include the following:

1. Deep roots: Hemp plants develop deep root systems, enabling them to access moisture from deeper soil layers. It helps them require less supplementary irrigation than crops with shallow root systems.

2. Fast growth: Hemp plants grow quickly, often maturing in 90 to 120 days. This rapid growth means they spend less time in the field, reducing the overall amount of water required during their growth cycle.

3. Drought tolerance: Hemp plants are relatively drought-tolerant and adapt to various climate conditions. They can continue to grow even under moderate water stress.

4. Water efficiency: Hemp plants have a high water-use efficiency, meaning they can produce more biomass per unit of water than other crops.

5. Natural pest resistance: Hemp plants have a natural resistance to many pests and diseases, which reduces the need for pesticides and additional water often required for pesticide application.

It is crucial to note that the exact water requirements for hemp can vary depending on factors such as soil type, climate, and cultivation practices. However, hemp is generally considered more water-efficient and environmentally friendly than many traditional alternatives.

Cotton Requires More Pesticides Than Hemp

Cotton does require more pesticides than hemp to grow successfully. Cotton is considered one of the most pesticide-intensive crops in the world, with conventional cotton farming using a large amount of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that can cause harm the environment and human health.

Hemp Crop Rotation

Crop hemp rotation is a common agricultural practice where different crops are grown in a particular field in a specific sequence over time. Crop rotation has many benefits, including improving soil health, reducing pests and diseases, and increasing yields.

Hemp is a fast-growing crop that can be harvested in as little as four months, making it suitable for inclusion in short-term crop rotation systems. Hemp is also a good companion crop for other crops, such as corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Hemp vs Cotton Summary

In summary, the debate between hemp and cotton revolves around these two crops’ environmental, economic, and social impacts. While both crops have advantages and disadvantages, hemp is generally considered more sustainable and environmentally friendly than cotton.

However, there are also social and economic considerations that also need to be taken into account when comparing these two crops.
From hemp seed to hemp oil, hemp is ready to be the cash crop of our modern day.