Water is an important and renewable resource, and cotton growers strive to use it responsibly, using practices like no-till farming and advanced irrigation systems to optimize water use.1 In fact, most U.S. cotton is produced using only natural rainfall.2
When rainfall is not sufficient, many cotton growers in developed cotton-growing countries use advanced irrigation systems to efficiently provide supplemental water to cotton crops. Supplemental irrigation can be a critical factor in the overall sustainability of cotton crops; in some cases, the amount of cotton lint per acre can double.9
New textile dyeing processes embed dye within the cotton fibers instead of coating them, or use foam dyeing for jeans, which reduces water waste in the manufacturing process.
A Confident Future for Water Conservation
Every liter of water used to grow this essential crop matters. Cotton growers are committed to using water responsibly through intelligent irrigation, water management practices that ensure water also benefits local ecosystems, and manufacturing processes that minimize water use or recapture water for reuse, such as foam dyeing of jeans. Cotton Incorporated directs research intended to continually improve irrigation efficiency and lower cotton’s environmental impacts.
Cotton & Water: Understanding Metrics & Use in Industry Tool – Part 1
Cotton & Water: Understanding Metrics & Use in Industry Tool – Part 2
Pathways to Progress: Increasing Cotton’s Water Productivity
The issue of water usage is not a new challenge for the sustainability world, but increasing temperatures and changing weather patterns over the last several decades along with increased water consumption has turned this into an impending crisis. Recently, the U.S....
Cotton is often misperceived as a plant requiring lots of water to grow; however, global cotton production accounts for about 3 percent of agricultural water. Cotton’s plant species is xerophyte, meaning it can grow in dry climates and can conserve water for its...
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- Barnes, E. M., Campbell, T. B., Vellidis, V., Porter, W., Payero, J., Leib, B., Sui, R., Fisher, D. K., Anapalli, S., Colaizzi, P., Bordovsky, J., Porter, D., Ale, S., Mahan, J., Taghvaeian, S., Thorp, K. (2020). Forty years of Increasing Cotton’s water productivity and why the trend will continue. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. https://doi.org/10.13031/aea.13911.
- United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (2019). 2018 Irrigation and Water Management Survey. www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2017/Online_Resources/Farm_and_Ranch_Irrigation_Survey/fris.pdf.
- Zwart, S. J., & Bastiaanssen, W. G. M. (2004). Review of measured crop water productivity values for irrigated wheat, rice, cotton and maize. Agric. Water Manag., 69(2), 115-133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2004.04.007.
- Zwart, S.J., and W.G.M. Bastiaanssen. (2004). Review of measured crop water productivity values for irrigated wheat, rice, cotton and maize. Agricultural Water Management 69:115-133. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2004.04.007.
- Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. (2016). Environmental and Socioeconomic Indicators for Measuring Outcomes of On-Farm Agricultural Production in the United States Field to Market. http://fieldtomarket.org/media/2016/12/Field-to-Market_2016-National-Indicators-Report.pdf.
- National Cotton Council, Cotton USA, Cotton Incorporated. (2018). U.S. Cotton Ten Year Sustainability Goals: Pathways to Progress. https://www.cottoninc.com/about-cotton/sustainability/cotton-sustainability/.
- United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. (2019). 2019 Agricultural Statistics. https://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/.
- United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (2018). 2018 Irrigation and Water Management Survey. www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2017/Online_Resources/Farm_and_Ranch_Irrigation_Survey/fris.pdf.
- Jalota, S. K., Sood, A., Vitale, J. D., & Srinivasan, R. (2007). Simulated crop yields response to irrigation water and economic analysis: Increasing irrigated water use effi ciency in the Indian Punjab. Agronomy Journal, 99(4), 1073–1084. https://doi.org/10.2134/agronj2006.0054.
- Wall, D. H. (2012). Soil ecology and ecosystem services. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575923.001.0001.
- Daystar, J. S., Barnes, E., Hake, K., & Kurtz, R. (2016). Sustainability Trends and Natural Resource Use in U.S. Cotton Production. BioResources, 12(1), 362–392. https://doi.org/10.15376/biores.12.1.362-392.
- Cotton Australia and Cotton Research and Development Corporation. (2019). Australian Cotton Sustainability Report 2019: Snapshot. https://www.crdc.com.au/sites/default/files/pdf/Sustainability%20Report%20snapshot.pdf.