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U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol now represents almost quarter of U.S. cotton acreage and reports continued improvements across all six sustainability metrics

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol has tripled its grower membership in just three years, whose 1.7m acres now represent almost a quarter (23%) of the entire cotton-growing area of the United States. And while it has expanded enrolled planted acres exponentially, the program continues to drive progress across its six metrics. These are just some of the headline results published today in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol’s third Annual Report.
  • Enrolled grower numbers tripled compared to 2020 launch, with 975 growers enrolling almost a quarter of entire U.S. cotton acreage; all 17 cotton-growing states represented
  • Key improvements on 2015 baseline figures reported are: a reduction in soil loss of 79%; 83% of Protocol growers seeing positive soil carbon index; yields +12% on national average; water efficiency up 14%; 27% reduction in energy use, and GHG emissions down 21%
  • Data reported in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol’s third Annual Report 

Continued improvement across all six metrics 

The program reported continued progress across all six metrics of land use; water use efficiency; energy use; greenhouse gas emissions; soil conservation, and soil carbon. Aggregate improvements on 2015 baseline figures reported are: a 79% reduction in soil loss with yields 12% greater than the national average; 83% of Protocol growers reporting a positive soil carbon index, water use efficiency enhanced by 14%, GHG emissions cut by more than a fifth (21%), and a 27% reduction in energy use. See notes to editors for further details.

Regenerative agriculture metrics

The Trust Protocol’s Annual Report also includes key metrics on progress in regenerative agriculture using Field to Market methodology. The regenerative practices reported include cover cropping; minimal or no-tillage methods; promoting biodiversity; rotational farming; precision agriculture techniques; Integrated Pest Management, and using inputs tailored to specific landscape conditions. See notes to editors below for further details. 

Aggregate data reporting in the context of an enlarged data set

The tripling of enrolled growers brings significant implications for data interpretation. More participating growers contribute to a larger data set which impacts the statistical significance of the findings. The diversity of practices with a large and broader group of growers also means there is a greater representation of farming practices, regions, conditions, which in turn helps improve data interpretation and allows for benchmarking. At the same time an unusually high or a low value in a single year of exponential growth in enrolled grower members can lead to data anomalies. Aggregate data reporting over a three-year period ensures a reduced impact of anomalies as more data is incorporated into the program.

Commenting on the results, U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol’s Executive Director Darren Abney said: “I’m greatly encouraged by the continued progress, and not least by the exponential growth in enrolled planted cotton acres. Accurate data collection sets the stage for appropriate decisions for brands and retailers, where they can claim how much water has been saved or how many greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced. Today’s data demonstrates how Protocol growers continue to improve in their environmental performance, year on year. We do not have a final destination: our journey is one of continuous improvement in the pursuit of excellence.”

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