It is not that cotton requires many more pesticides and other ag chemicals. It is that cotton farmers can use more chemicals as well as more toxic chemicals on cotton and other fiber crops because they are not food items.
The answer to your question will change depending on whether or not you lump fertilizer in with pesticides as an agricultural chemical, and whether you look at pounds of active ingredient or environmental impact/human health hazards (small amounts of some pesticides are MUCH worse than large amounts of others), but with all those qualifications out of the way, if you look only at pesticides, the highest crop is actually raspberries which, in California as sprayed with more than twenty pounds of pesticide active ingredient per acre.[citation 1] If you include fertilizers, bananas, which can consume up to a ton of fertilizer per acre (in the form of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous) are far and away the biggest consumer. [citation 2 (table 12)]
But I agree with greenjellybelly that it’s not a question of crops REQUIRING pesticides and fertilizers, just a question of yields being higher with them than without them.
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