Textile News

U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol

Objective

To document and verify the sustainable best management practices being implemented by US Cotton Trust Protocol producers, to quantify their environmental impacts, to drive continual improvement, and to help the US cotton industry reach their 10-year sustainability goals.

Overview

The US Cotton Trust Protocol is a voluntary farm-level sustainability program designed to document best management practices being used by American cotton producers. The program entails 4 key pillars: enrollment, completion of the best management practice questionnaire, use of Fieldprint Calculator, and verification. The program focuses on continual improvement and promoting sustainable best management practices applicable to US cotton production systems.

Producing Countries (2016/17 unless otherwise stated)

N/A — Pilot phase of the program started in 2019.

Manufacturing Process

NA

Manufacturing Location

NA

Fiber Production 2016/17 (MT)

N/A — Pilot phase of the program started in 2019.

Growth in production (2016/17 - 2017/18)

N/A — Pilot phase of the program started in 2019.

Market Share of Total Cotton Grown (2017/18)

N/A — Pilot phase of the program started in 2019.

Projected growth in production

Approximately 230 producers enrolled in the US CTP in 2019. It is anticipated that 750-1000 producers will be enrolled by the end of 2020.

Yield (see accompanying “TE Position” notes)

N/A — Pilot phase of the program started in 2019.

Rainfed/ Irrigated

Both

Water Management

One of the nine categories covered by the best management practices questionnaire is water management. Of the ~230 producers enrolled in the pilot phase of the program: 50% use soil, climate, or plant based measurements to monitor soil and crop water status; 50% install and maintain filter strips/buffer strips/field borders; 28% utilized variable rate irrigation; 67% measure water use with flow meters.

Soil Fertility

One of the nine categories covered by the best management practices questionnaire is soil health. Of the ~230 producers enrolled in the pilot phase of the program: 97% conduct soil testing to determine residual N, P, and K levels and only apply recommended amounts to meet productivity targets; 97% keep records of application dates, materials and rates to track efficiency and identify opportunities for improvement; 83% work with advisors who have expertise in soil health; 82% utilize cover crops.

Biodiversity

One of the nine categories covered by the best management practices questionnaire is Wildlife Habitat. Of the ~230 producers enrolled in the pilot phase of the program: 46% have planted wildflowers and other native vegetation to enhance pollinator habitat; 65% use precision agricultural data to evaluate each acre or zone of a field for profitability to consider converting non-profitable land to conservation areas.

GMOs Permitted?

Yes

Use of Hazardous Pesticides

Crop protection products are available for use under the US Cotton Trust Protocol, as long as they are approved by the US EPA and/or state regulations. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles are incorporated into the best management practices questionnaire as well, and of the ~230 producers who enrolled in the pilot program: 100% used only US EPA and/or state regulated crop protection products; 90% use licensed consultants to monitor crop and pest status and make recommendations for pest management; 94% use science based action thresholds to initiate pesticide treatments.

Use of Synthetic Fertilizer

One of the nine categories covered by the best management practices questionnaire is Nutrient Management. Of the ~230 producers enrolled in the pilot phase of the program: 100% have a nutrient management plan that considers soil type, pH, related local conditions, and avoiding excess fertilization; additionally, the “4 Rs” of nutrient management are part of this section which incorporate the philosophy of only applying fertilizer from the Right Source, at the Right Place, at the Right Rate, and at the Right Time. Over 85% of producers in the pilot phase practiced all aspects of our recommended practices associated with the 4 Rs of nutrient management.

LCA available?

No. However, the requirement for growers in this program to use Field to Market’s Fieldprint Calculator will calculate a sustainability score for their operation based on the following key performance indicators (KPIs): biodiversity, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, irrigation water use, land use, soil carbon, soil conservation, and water quality. The Fieldprint Calculator is a robust environmental assessment tool designed to quantify agricultural impacts in terms of the aforementioned KPIs.

Water Consumption (m3/ 1000kg fiber*) or best practices used to conserve water

One of the nine categories covered by the best management practices questionnaire is water management. Of the ~230 producers enrolled in the pilot phase of the program: 50% use soil, climate, or plant based measurements to monitor soil and crop water status; 28% utilized variable rate irrigation; 67% measure water use with flow meters; 90% used practices to more efficiently utilize natural rainfall and/or tail water by using cover crops, terraces, furrow diking, holding ponds or conservation tillage.

Primary Energy Demand MJ /1000 kg fiber *

Not available.

Global Warming (kg of CO2-eq/ 1000kg fiber*)

Not available. However, over 92% of producers enrolled in pilot phase utilized conservation tillage practices, which significantly reduces GHG emissions per kilogram of lint producers.

Eutrophication (kg of phosphate-eq/ 1000 kg fiber *)

Not available. However, over 85% of producers in the pilot phase practiced all aspects of our recommended practices associated with the “4 Rs” of nutrient management. Following these best management practices for nutrient management will significantly reduce the eutrophication potential per kilogram of lint produced.

Social considerations / regulations

US cotton growers are all held to high standards by laws for worker health and safety. EEO Equal Employment Opportunity, Child Labor Legislation, Personal Protection and Migrant Labor Laws all must be adhered to.

Verification / Certification (farm level)

2nd and/or 3rd party verifications.

Chain of Custody (supply chain)

A permanent bale identification (PBI) number is fixed to every bale of cotton and will be part of every US CTP credit generated through this program. The credit system associated with this program is still under development.

Product marketing/labeling

No on product marketing or labeling planned for 2020.

Consumer recognition

No data

Livelihoods

US cotton producers support the local economies by employing farm staff and providing a product which supports other businesses within the supply chain (gins, crop consultants, merchants, farm equipment suppliers, spinning mills, etc.)

Product marketing/labeling

No on product marketing or labeling planned for 2020.

Quality perception/ implications

US cotton is recognized as being some of the highest quality in the world. Every bale produced in the US is subject to a robust USDA cotton classification process. Cotton classing data determines the cotton’s characteristics such as: color, fiber length, fiber strength, and fiber uniformity. Each bale in the US also has a permanent bale identification label which provides both the classification data as well as the farm location.
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