22/03/2023 – U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol — auf Deutsch lesen

World Water Day 2023

World Water Day on March 22 is a good time to report on the progress of farmers participating in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol and call for greater commitment.


The use of technological solutions enables farmers to use water more targeted. © cci_0627_high


The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, introduced in 2020, was developed to establish a new standard for sustainably grown cotton. One important aspect of the efforts is the reduction of water consumption to mitigate environmental impacts in the face of climate change.


U.S. cotton producers are continuously improving their sustainability practices by using new technologies to reduce water consumption. Currently, about two-thirds of cotton grown in the U.S. rely on natural precipitation and are not irrigated. The remaining cultivation area is weather-dependent irrigated to supplement precipitation.

U.S. cotton producers report significant progress in meeting the sustainability goal for 2025, such as increasing water efficiency by 18%. This corresponds to a reduction of water consumption to 3,300 liters for each additional kilogram of cotton. For comparison, in 2021/2022, Trust Protocol member producers improved irrigation water use by 14%. Over the past 35 years, U.S. cotton producers have reduced water consumption by about 80%.

Innovative technologies

An important tool for these achievements is the use of technological solutions that enable targeted water use. With the help of soil probes and satellite images, farmers can map and precisely track where water is needed. Irrigation planning and drip irrigation ensure that water is used only when needed and that it penetrates the soil. Agronomists often assist in irrigation planning and setting crop coefficients. The ability to measure water evaporation from soil and plants is another key indicator of precision agriculture that increases efficiency.

And then there are the proven but no less important practices of soil cover and direct seeding, all of which help prevent water evaporation (as well as other benefits such as carbon sequestration).

Working together for a sustainable future

The goals of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol are important for many parts of the industry: brands, retailers, spinners, and manufacturers. This is evidenced by the fact that the number of spinner and manufacturer members increased by more than 50% in 2021/22 and now includes over 1,200 companies from 30 countries. Program members also include 40 of the world's leading international brands and retailers.

Continued strong commitment, technological innovations, and a high level of responsibility are important for the program to make progress in water efficiency and other sustainability criteria.