- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
Global denim brand Wrangler has analysed dozens of scientific reports to reveal that the practices of sustainable cotton farming techniques, such as conservation tillage, cover crops and crop rotation results in the removal of three times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere than conventional farming methods.
Its report, ‘Seeding Soil’s Potential’ comes after Wrangler’s soil health advisors reviewed more than 45 scientific papers and reviews from academic, government, and industry researchers, as well as expert input from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Nature Conservancy, and the Soil Health Institute.
It found that not only did sustainable farming practices have environmental benefits such as the soil having more nutrients and microbial, better soil and water retention, and improved soil structure, there are also economic benefits, including reduced inputs and costs, lower risks from weather and pests, as well as higher yields and productivity.
“Wrangler believes that our supply chain does not begin with fabric or cotton. It begins with soil and the land itself,” explains Roian Atwood, director of sustainability for Wrangler. “Preserving and enhancing the health of soil is critical and necessary to the preservation of America’s denim heritage and future generations of people who work the land.”
In light of the environmental and economic benefits of sustainable farming practices, Wrangler has pledged to partner with US cotton farmers to double its use of sustainably-farmed cotton by 2019, as well as share its findings with the fashion industry to encourage other brands to follow suit.
Wrangler to double use of sustainably-farmed cotton by 2019
In the US, cotton is grown on approximately 12.5 million acres stretching from the Southeast to the Southwest.
The report notes: “Conventional cotton cultivation practices can disturb and degrade the soil with tillage, bare soil surfaces, chemical inputs, and continuous monoculture crop production.
“The value of strong and healthy soil can be underestimated, but there is burgeoning interest across the supply chain, from farmers to brands, to implement practices that build and protect the soil.”
Wrangler states that by covering crops, rotating crops, and conservation tillage, a range of practices that reduce soil disturbance from plowing and maintain a minimum of 60 percent residue cover on the soil surface throughout the year, will add three times more organic matter to the soil, which allows water to permeate the soil better and makes more nutrients available to the plants.
Last year, Wrangler introduced its soil health pilot programme to bolster the supply of sustainable cotton, championing growers who are leading the way and encouraging wider adoption of responsible farming practices. Today, the programme includes five cotton producers representing farms in Halls, Tennessee; Athens, Alabama; Albany, Georgia; Conway, North Carolina; and Big Spring, Texas.
“We’ve experienced the benefits of combining these three practices,” said Eugene Pugh, the programme partner and cotton farmer in Tennessee. “It’s allowing us to decrease our inputs while maintaining, and even improving, yield. And at the same time, our soil is improving with each passing season. That feels really good.”
Wayne Honeycutt, president and chief executive of the Soil Health Institute, added: “I’m grateful Wrangler has taken up this cause, because the potential to transform agricultural lands with soil health practices is tremendous.
“If farmers adopt these practices globally, we’ll have much greater resiliency in our food and fibre production. We’ll also have cleaner water and air, and we can draw carbon out of the air to regenerate our soils for current and future generations.”
Image: still from Wrangler YouTube