Jeans brand Wrangler is seeking to promote the importance of soil health in its supply chain.
The company has produced a report, Seeding Soil’s Potential, which highlights the economic and environmental benefits of techniques that preserve soil. These are conservation tillage, cover crops and crop rotation.
In 2011 a US Department of Agriculture survey found that conservation tillage practices were being used on 33% of acres planted in cotton, but now 64% of US growers are using it on at least some of their fields.
Tillage includes a range of practices to reduce soil disturbance and maintain a minimum of 60% residue cover on the soil surface throughout the year.
Only 2% of US farms are typically planted with cover crops, which are usually not harvested and reduce erosion and improve soil composition.
However, nearly half of cotton growers surveyed indicated using these crops on some of their fields and 78% of cotton producers in the US use crop rotation.
“Wrangler believes that our supply chain does not begin with fabric or cotton. It begins with soil and the land itself,” said Roian Atwood, director of sustainability for Wrangler.
“That’s why we’re committed to doubling our use of sustainably-farmed cotton over the next year.”
Wrangler claims US growers are among the most efficient and responsible producers of cotton in the world yet face constant challenges from intensifying periods of drought, flooding and market uncertainty.
The company believes the soil health practices outlined in the report can help buffer growers from these risks by lowering costs and improving crop resiliency.
The firm said it was also helping to develop soil health measurement and tracking tools that will allow growers to anonymously compare their practices and productivity to regional peers.
Last year Wrangler introduced a soil health pilot scheme to help make cotton growing more sustainable. The programme now includes five cotton producers.
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