Cotton USA: Changing water use with
Water is a precious resource; one Cotton
USA is committed to protecting and preserving for future
You will probably have heard that cotton
is a water-intensive crop. For U.S. cotton, this is changing.
Thanks to technological breakthroughs in the way they grow
cotton in the U.S., and the collective actions of U.S. cotton
growers over many years, the amount of water used to grow cotton
has reduced 82% since the 1980s.
Did you know that two thirds of U.S.
cotton fields require no irrigation at all? They make the most
of the rainwater that hydrates the Cotton Belt each year.
Technology has played a large part in powering these
improvements. Across the U.S., growers employ tools such as
computer-driven moisture sensors or evapotranspiration weather
stations to effectively monitor the water level of the soil. In
the past, we had to irrigate regularly with little proof of
impact; now fields are irrigated only when the technology deems
They are not about to stop here, however.
They will continue to invest in decreasing the water we use.
Later this year, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol will launch. The
Trust Protocol creates a new standard for the cotton industry
and commits cotton growers to continuous improvements on many
accounts (not just water). A defining feature of this new
sustainability protocol will be to provide access to insightful
data points to U.S. growers who will use this data to learn from
each other and improve, as well as brands and retailers who want
assurances about the sustainability of the cotton they buy.
Propelled by the findings of the new data,
growers will have a greater understanding of where and how they
can drive efficiencies and further reduce their use of
irrigation. It’s incredibly hard to change things which are not
measured, so one of the aims of the Trust Protocol is to enable
growers to measure their processes and adjust accordingly.
Attached to the Trust Protocol is an ambitious target to
increase the water efficiency of cotton (more fiber per gallon
of water) by 18% over the next 5 years alone – a target we
intend to make possible by empowering growers through data.