Regenerative agriculture practices in cotton production

Regenerative agriculture practices in cotton production

According to the protocol signed by Egedeniz Textile, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies, International Agricultural Research and Training Center (UTAEM), and Organic Agriculture Organization (ETO); regenerative cotton production project has been carrying out for 3 years from 2022 at land area (Map: https://goo.gl/maps/SZjiddh6vhroEqLv5) that belongs to UTAEM in Izmir, Türkiye.
  • Project Sponsor: Egedeniz Textile
  • Documentation and Academic Research: Dr. Uygun Aksoy - Organic Agriculture Organization (ETO)
  • Agricultural Operations: International Agricultural Research and Training Center (UTAEM)

Egedeniz Textile:

        
1-Egedeniz Textile/Kadioglu Journey through years

Egedeniz is a vertically integrated textile goods producer that proudly focuses on transparency throughout the supply chain, as its history timeline shows through the years by sustainability commitment, in 2022 started regenerative agriculture practices projects to take a step further for a holistic approach in the sustainable textile industry.

Why regenerative agriculture?
Regenerative Agriculture is a holistic land management practice that leverages the power of photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle and build soil health, crop resilience, and nutrient density. Regenerative agriculture improves soil health, primarily through practices that increase soil organic matter. This not only aids in increasing soil biota diversity and health but increases biodiversity both above and below the soil surface, while increasing both water-holding capacity and sequestering carbon at greater depths, thus drawing down climate-damaging levels of atmospheric CO2, and improving soil structure to reverse civilization-threatening human-caused soil loss.

The 2800 Square meter land area (UTAEM) is within 100 km of Egedeniz Textile headquarters for eliminating CO2 footprint and sustainability commitment.


2-Eliminating CO2 footprints

Our project and regenerative approaches:
Field flora before planting is shown below, this is the first project’s land view.


3-Field flora before planting


4-Field flora before planting

Two varieties of Aegean cotton, Bomba and Millet 84 were planted on the field. Aegean cotton has all the attributes expected from quality cotton. It is known as one of the best, with its structure consisting of long fibers, high homogeneity, and ligament with minimal yellowness.

The 2 varieties used are drought-tolerance seeds and are known for their water-efficient usage. Bomba is known as an early variety and Millet 84 is known as a mid-variety. 1400 square meter of land includes Bomba variety and 1400 square meter includes Millet 84 variety.
                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

5-Field map and Aegean organic cotton varieties

Mulching was the first regenerative agriculture practice, proving soil quality because it increases the organic matter and nutrient content of the soil. Mulch covered the bare land area, which reduces erosion due by protecting the top layer of soil from rain and wind. Mulch will decompose over time, releasing nutrients in an organic form that is beneficial for cotton crops.


6-Mulching

Meanwhile the soil samples were taken for analysis its moisture level and both chemical and physical analysis. The samples were taken by applying no tilling on the land.


7-Soil samples for analysis

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Sowing is done directly on the row with the sowing machine. The row spacing should be 70 cm, and the row spacing should be 35-40 cm. Sowing depth is usually 3-4 cm according to soil conditions. Germination of the seed occurs within 5-10 days under normal conditions. So no tolling is another regenerative practice applied. 

Sowing time for cotton varies according to region, and even from field to field. The optimum soil temperature for cotton cultivation is 15-18°C. The fact that the soil temperature is around 15-18°C and this temperature is constant for a few days indicates that cotton can be planted. Cotton planting in our country continues from the last week of March to the first week of June. Late sowing not only reduces the amount of product but also negatively affects the quality characteristics of cotton. However, cotton varieties are affected differently by late planting. Sowing was done directly into it by the no-till drill. We believe any tilling equipment will destroy topsoil, but by no-trill drill, we grow our cotton seed varieties on topsoil, without reducing the organic matter of the soil. So the recommended form of cultivation in organic cotton production is direct sowing.


8-Direct sowing, no tilling

Certified organic fertilizer which is an organic liquid made from organic biogas plants was applied for increasing soil organic matter. The main source of organic matter in the soil is plant and animal residues. Soil contains elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur, which are among living organisms and minerals. In conventional agriculture, farmers apply chemical fertilizers to the soil every year and often more than necessary, causing soil fertility loss. Organic matter is the most important factor in soil quality. If there is a lack of plant nutrients in the soil, this indicates a low organic matter. Therefore, the first thing to be done in order to increase the yield and grow products resistant to diseases is to increase the organic matter.

For plant protection only once biopesticide including an active ingredient called Azadirachtin was sprayed.  

Drip irrigation is the watering method in which water is supplied directly to the root zone of cultivated plants and regulated in small portions using a dispenser-dropper. This system allows significant savings in water. Drip irrigation is practiced in some countries where irrigation water is very scarce and is applied rarely in the Aegean region. The main purpose of irrigation; is the provision of water, which is necessary for obtaining high-quality and optimum products and which cannot be met by natural means.

Fertilizer and water are given together as fertigastion in the drip irrigation system.


9-Drip Irrigation

Increasing biodiversity by cover crops is another regenerative practice, by planting Vetch mix stand (oats, barley, triticale) on the field in October.


10-Cover crops for biodiversity increasing

Cotton harvest was done in October 2022 all by hand.


11-Cotton harvest by hand

With crop rotation, the crop that pulls a particular nutrient from the soil allows that nutrient to replenish once again in the soil when a different crop will be planted the next season. When you place the same type of crops in the same soil year after year, your soil richness gradually worsens as these plants deplete the nutrients repeatedly. After harvesting the field is covered by vetch, next year after harvesting cotton we will plant wheat as a crop rotation.

We believe the regenerative approach is a practical agriculture technique for carbon farming where the soil health indicators and analysis with data can provide credible data for a holistic approach in the country. Leftover biomass is returned to the soil as mulch after harvest instead of being removed or burned.

The Carbon Flux System tool is used for analyzing the carbon sequestration of soil and also the plant. carbon sequestration contributes to climate mitigation.
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12-CO2 indicator through app, Carbon Flux System

We are looking to calculate the CO2 emissions of cotton production by applying regenerative techniques. Increasing the storage of atmospheric carbon in the soil defines carbon farming.

                       
13-Carbon Flux System tool


Last Update: November 2022

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