The Great Cotton Experiment

Rachel G. Horn  /  2 Min Read  /  Our Footprint

This is a test to grow our clothes differently.

This farm in India is part of a test to grow the cotton we use to make clothes differently—to respect the land, people and animals that work it and, ultimately, to build soil healthy enough to help stop climate change. Avani Rai

This is a test. It’s late in the growing season, and the first puffs of white appear speckled on the landscape. On this farm, plants grow between what would normally be orderly monocropped rows, and workers in beautiful, brightly colored saris inspect each plant by hand. India is the world’s largest producer of cotton, including organic cotton. But this farm isn’t like the others, and that’s because it’s part of a test: a test to grow our clothes differently.

Growing food and fiber with industrial techniques and harmful chemicals has devastated our climate in just over a century. We believe there’s a better way—Regenerative Organic (RO) farming practices that have the potential to help stop climate change. In an experiment that was the first of its kind, we partnered with over 150 farms in India to grow our first crop of Regenerative Organic Certification Pilot Cotton.

Because healthy soil traps carbon, this type of farming has the potential to draw down more greenhouse gases than other farming methods. If we switch to Regenerative Organic practices, we could turn our agricultural system from problem to solution. As the highest organic standard, Regenerative Organic supports people and animals working together to restore the health of our land to create a future as bright as these colorful, buzzing farms.

The Great Cotton Experiment
Photo Gallery

A group of women inspect cotton plants at one of over 150 farms in India growing the crop as part of our Regenerative Organic Certification Pilot. Through this certification, farmers receive premiums for the cotton they produce. Avani Rai

The Great Cotton Experiment
Photo Gallery

Minglasing Deva Singad tends to cotton plants and turmeric and chili intercrops, which are sold as additional cash crops. Satrudi, India. Hashim Badani

The Great Cotton Experiment
Photo Gallery

Every few weeks, the soil in these fields in India is enriched with the addition of dry compost. The quality of the soil impacts crop yield, water retention and how much carbon can be stored in the ground. Hashim Badani

The Great Cotton Experiment
Photo Gallery

Hansing Datta sorts through the freshly plucked groundnuts from a field in India. These fields are intercropped with corn, tomatoes, chilis and groundnuts during the months of October and November. Hashim Badani

The Great Cotton Experiment
Photo Gallery

A natural pesticide is made by crushing the leaves of five different plants and leaving them to sit in a clay pot for a week. It is then boiled, reduced by half, mixed with water and sprayed over the fields. Hashim Badani

The Great Cotton Experiment
Photo Gallery

When the plant is ready for harvest, cotton is handpicked from its protective case, called a boll. Avani Rai

The Great Cotton Experiment
Photo Gallery

Amrathlal Chogalal Patidar plucks a few marigolds from the field, which are grown alongside the cotton. Marigolds help attract pests and, because they are an important flower for festivals and celebrations, can be sold by farmers as an additional cash crop. Hashim Badani

The Great Cotton Experiment
Photo Gallery

Two farmers stand with their cows. These animals provide ingredients for a rich compost, one important element in building healthy soil. Avani Rai

Photo Gallery

A group of women inspect cotton plants at one of over 150 farms in India growing the crop as part of our Regenerative Organic Certification Pilot. Through this certification, farmers receive premiums for the cotton they produce. Avani Rai

Minglasing Deva Singad tends to cotton plants and turmeric and chili intercrops, which are sold as additional cash crops. Satrudi, India. Hashim Badani

Every few weeks, the soil in these fields in India is enriched with the addition of dry compost. The quality of the soil impacts crop yield, water retention and how much carbon can be stored in the ground. Hashim Badani

Hansing Datta sorts through the freshly plucked groundnuts from a field in India. These fields are intercropped with corn, tomatoes, chilis and groundnuts during the months of October and November. Hashim Badani

A natural pesticide is made by crushing the leaves of five different plants and leaving them to sit in a clay pot for a week. It is then boiled, reduced by half, mixed with water and sprayed over the fields. Hashim Badani

When the plant is ready for harvest, cotton is handpicked from its protective case, called a boll. Avani Rai

Amrathlal Chogalal Patidar plucks a few marigolds from the field, which are grown alongside the cotton. Marigolds help attract pests and, because they are an important flower for festivals and celebrations, can be sold by farmers as an additional cash crop. Hashim Badani

Two farmers stand with their cows. These animals provide ingredients for a rich compost, one important element in building healthy soil. Avani Rai

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