Sustainability Trends and Natural Resource Use in U.S. Cotton Production

Jesse S. Daystar, Edward Barnes, Kater Hake, Ryan Kurtz


Cotton is a natural fiber that takes up carbon dioxide from the environment when grown; however, it requires various resources to be cultivated in a financially viable way. Resources such as fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and irrigation water can create environmental impacts as well as present significant costs to the grower. Understanding the efficacy of technologies and grower practices is an important aspect of developing best practices and guiding future research. To better understand the grower needs, practices, and resource use efficiency, a survey was conducted in 2015 with 925 U.S. cotton grower respondents. This survey gathered data on field performance, pest pressures, growing practices, and other parameters that were used to examine the resources used per pound of cotton lint as well as estimate the greenhouse gas emissions and energy use from cotton cultivation. In general, growers who used various precision agricultural technologies reported higher performing fields with higher resource use efficiencies than non-precision technology adopters.


Cotton; Nitrogen use; Precision agriculture; Greenhouse gas; Survey; Integrated pest management; Water use; Energy

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