The US Cotton Trust Protocol, which is a standard for sustainably grown cotton, reported continued progress across all six metrics of land use: water efficiency; energy use; greenhouse gas emissions; soil conservation; and soil carbon.

According to the Trust Protocol’s 2023 annual report, since 2015 baseline figures the organisation has seen:

  • an 79% reduction in soil loss, with yields 12% greater than the national average
  • 83% of growers reporting a positive soil carbon index
  • water use efficiency enhanced by 14%
  • greenhouse gas emissions cut by more than a fifth (21%)
  • a 27% reduction in energy use

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.

Additionally, the US Cotton Trust Protocol explained that the tripling of enrolled growers brings significant implications for data interpretation which means more participating growers contribute to a larger data set which impacts the statistical significance of the findings.

It also noted that the diversity of practices with a large and broader group of growers means there is a greater representation of farming practices, regions, conditions, which in turn helps improve data interpretation and allows for benchmarking.

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Executive Director of US Cotton Trust Protocol Daren 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.”

Last year in October, The US Cotton Trust Protocol reported that there were 1.6m acres of cotton crop under its progamme, bumping the cotton acres numbers to 25% since 2022.