Community at the Heart of U.S. Cotton Sustainable Farming
April 14, 2022

Earth Day Feature on a Cotton Grower and His Dedication to Land Stewardship

Water management, land use, soil health and energy efficiency are considered the sustainability basics in cotton production. New technologies and precision agriculture make sustainable agriculture possible while improving cotton quality and farming efficiency. But when we talk about cotton sustainability, we often neglect the true power behind progress that’s been powering growers for generations: community.

Leading into Earth Day, Cotton LEADs wanted to highlight one grower’s dedication to stewarding the land and serving his neighbors and show U.S. cotton’s deep roots in community.

Rich Lindsey

Rich Lindsey is a fifth-generation cotton farmer and ginner in Centre, Alabama, who literally grew up surrounded by cotton. “I was born into it,” he says. “When I was growing up, I sat in my grandparents’ backyard at the cotton gin and scattered all around the community where I grew up are the fields we put cotton in.”

Rich Lindsey in a Fire TruckA volunteer fire chief in his local fire department, Lindsey sees sustainable farming practices and precision agriculture as just another way to make his community stronger. By leveraging technology and data, he can not only improve the quality and yield of his own cotton, but also steward the land for future generations.

“The integration of new technologies makes us sustainable,” he says. “A cotton gin that is totally integrated into one PLC can provide us feedback like we’ve never had before. Yield monitors allow us to see exactly what we’re picking off of every square inch of the field. Grid sampling for scrimption application minimizes input and maximize effectiveness.”

All of these practices help Lindsey to minimize soil depletion and chemical use while improving the quality of his cotton fibers, which he says has been the main focus of his career. He’s been able to consistently improve quality by testing and measuring varieties and producing reports annually. He does it because cotton is in his blood, but more importantly out of appreciation and respect for the community in which he lives.

Cotton Field

“I get up every morning and I love going to work,” Lindsey says. “I love interacting with the people. I love being involved in my community. And I hope to provide that same love for agriculture and that same opportunity for my kids. But, most of all I hope that when they’re grown and married they can at least drive around and enjoy seeing cotton growing and seeing a community that still knows each other and loves each other and takes care of each other.”

See more about Lindsey’s efforts through his Stories: On the Farm video.

Lindsey’s story is inspirational, but not unique. Growers across the United States have adopted sustainable farming practices because they hope to sustain farming communities and their way of life. Stewarding the land through precision agriculture means more to them than yield, quality, soil health or water and energy conservation. It means conserving communities.

These farmers also care deeply about what happens to their cotton further down the chain and how that affects the greater world. If you too, want to learn about the sustainability of a cotton garment’s end of life, join us on April 19 at 2 p.m. ET for a webinar on Recycling Textiles and Exploring the Possibilities of Recycled Cotton.

The work we do is possible because of collaborations with researchers like these and partnerships with people all throughout the value chain. Ready to commit to sustainably produced cotton? Become a Cotton LEADS partner today. Interested in doing even more? Contact us for ideas to get the most out of sustainable cotton and your partnership with Cotton LEADS.

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