In Our Fields

Throughout the 17 cotton-producing states there are a variety of climates, temperature patterns, soils and more that mean there are no universal production techniques for growers. For example, while California experienced a drought in 2020, states such as Tennessee experienced increased rainfall, resulting in delayed harvests. These differences mean that growing practices vary dramatically by region, and there is not a one-size fits all approach to sustainable and responsible agricultural techniques. Trust Protocol growers make decisions based on their own operations, but understand that they can learn from their peers as a means of continually improving their environmental footprint. 

Today, 63% of U.S. cotton growers utilize precision agriculture technology including GPS receivers, multi-spectral images and ground-based sensors. These technologies gather field-specific parameters including soil conditions, nutrients and water availability. They assess the data to deploy site-specific crop management practices to maximize yields and minimize crop inputs. Real-time weather radar allows growers to avoid activities affected by storms, such as run-off from nutrient and herbicide applications. Yield maps show how areas within fields may need different management.

Meet the Growers:

Rusty Darby

Rusty Darby is a cotton grower in South Carolina and member of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol. He has produced cotton for 57 years and started farming with his dad and grandfather.

Click on the icons to learn more.

Shelley Butler Barlow
VIRGINIA
 
Photo of Barlow's Cotton Farm in Virginia 1 of 17

Donny Lassiter
NORTH CAROLINA
 

Photo of Lassiter's Cotton Farm in North Carolina

2 of 17
Daniel Baxley
SOUTH CAROLINA
 
Photo at Baxley's Cotton Farm in South Carolina 3 of 17
Jimmy Webb
GEORGIA
 
Photo of Jimmy Webb's Cotton Farm in Georgia 4 of 17
Nick McMichen ALABAMA
 
Photo of Nick McMichen's Cotton Farm in Alabama 5 of 17

Nick Marshall
FLORIDA
 

Photo at Marshall's Cotton Farm in Florida

6 of 17

John Lindamood
TENNESEE
 
Photo of Lindamood's Cotton Farm in Tennessee

7 of 17
Sledge Taylor
MISSISSIPPI
 
Photo of Taylor's Cotton Farm in Mississippi 8 of 17

Laura Collins
MISSOURI
 

Photo at Collins' Cotton Farm in Missouri

9 of 17
Nathan Reed
ARKANSAS
 
Photo at Reed's Cotton Farm in Arkansas 10 of 17

Ted Schneider
LOUISIANA

 

11 of 17
Debra Barrett
TEXAS
 
Photo at Debra Barrett's Cotton Farm in Texas 12 of 17

Clint Abernathy
OKLAHOMA


13 of 17
Kent Dunn
KANSAS
 
Photo at Dunn's Farm in Kansas 14 of 17

Jerry, Nancy, Dean, Amy, Cory and Kevin Calvani, Calvani Farms
NEW MEXICO


Photo of Jerry, Nancy, Dean, Amy, Cory and Kevin Calvani of Calvani Farms

15 of 17
Adam Hatley
ARIZONA
 
Photo at Hatley's Cotton Farm in Arizona 16 of 17

Aaron Barcellos
CALIFORNIA 

 

Photo at Barcellos' Cotton Farm in California

17 of 17

Sustainability Metrics with Trust Protocol Growers

Listen in as six Trust Protocol growers talk about the key sustainability metrics the program tracks: water use, energy efficiency, land use, soil carbon, soil conservation and greenhouse gas emissions. Each grower will share the practices they use to continuously improve their environmental footprint.

Video Playlist
1/7 videos
1
Trust Protocol Grower Member Kellon Lee on Soil Loss
Trust Protocol Grower Member Kellon Lee on Soil Loss
2
Trust Protocol Grower Member Aaron Barcellos on Water Use
Trust Protocol Grower Member Aaron Barcellos on Water Use
3
Trust Protocol Grower Members Ronnie and Neil Lee on Land Use
Trust Protocol Grower Members Ronnie and Neil Lee on Land Use
4
Trust Protocol Grower Member Adam Hatley on Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Trust Protocol Grower Member Adam Hatley on Greenhouse Gas Emissions
5
Trust Protocol Grower Member Dahlen Hancock on Soil Carbon
Trust Protocol Grower Member Dahlen Hancock on Soil Carbon
6
Trust Protocol Grower Member Brad Williams on Energy Use
Trust Protocol Grower Member Brad Williams on Energy Use
7
Worker Well-Being
Worker Well-Being

Seeding, Planting and Harvesting

Listen in as Trust Protocol grower John Lindamood (TN) talks about the cotton production process. John will take you through seeding, planting and harvesting of cotton crops.

Video Playlist
1/3 videos
1
Seeding
Seeding
2
Cotton Planting
Cotton Planting
3
Harvesting
Harvesting

Regenerative Agriculture and Biodiversity

Regenerative agriculture describes farming practices that can reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle. It looks at the combination of practices that support resilience as well as builds and nourishes the ecosystem in a holistic manner.

View Document

5 Major Principles of Regenerative Agriculture

The Trust Protocol’s recommended practices for grower members reflect core principles of regenerative agriculture. The program focuses on practices that minimize soil disturbance and loss, maintain living roots year-round, keep the soil covered, and maximize crop diversity. Farmers can also integrate livestock where feasible.

  • 79% of Trust Protocol grower members maintain erosion control structures for minimizing soil loss
  • 45% of Trust Protocol grower members incorporate windbreaks for erosion control
  • Trust Protocol grower members plant cover crops that encourage food security and reduce atmospheric carbon
  • 93% of Trust Protocol grower members practice conservation tillage which reduces soil loss by 74% compared to the 2015 baseline
  • Trust Protocol grower members maximize biodiversity by practicing crop rotation, which increases soil organic matter, decreases greenhouse gas emissions, and produces healthier soil

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol was featured in EARTH with John Holden at the end of 2021. The segment details sustainable cotton production in the U.S. and demonstrates how the Trust Protocol brings quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurement to sustainable cotton production.

Click here to watch the full segment.

The Trust Protocol’s vision is to set a new standard in sustainable cotton production where full transparency is a reality and continuous improvement to improve our environmental footprint is the central goal. Regenerative agriculture aims for net positives, and calls for growers to continually improve their practices and techniques. Practices such as conservation tillage and cover crops aid soil health and increase soil carbon levels.

Regenerative agriculture builds upon the positive environmental impacts of sustainable practices, aiming for a whole systems approach to bio-sequestration, biodiversity, ecotoxicity, climate resilience, water systems, micronutrients, and ecosystem services.

Become A Member Today

Meet Our Growers

Shelley Butler Barlow

Virginia

I am a farmer at Cotton Plains Farm in Suffolk, Virginia, where I work with my husband, Joseph Barlow, Jr., and his father and son. Together my family grows cotton, soybeans, corn, wheat and vegetables. I’ve been a farmer for nearly two decades and have tackled many aspects of our family farm. I take care of the bookkeeping, weed-pulling and tractor-driving with the help of my husband. I have worked in agriculture since 1982, raising pigs, working as a veterinary technician, selling feed and animal pharmaceuticals, and finally, for the past 18 years, as a farmer.

I want people to recognize the enormous impact agriculture has on a state’s landscape, culture and economy. Farmers need to learn to be comfortable with and value their own contributions, however large or small their operations. I have participated in a two-year leadership program sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension, where I have learned about the specifics of nine different Virginia agricultural specialties.

Photo of Barlow's Cotton Farm in Virginia

Meet Our Growers

Donny Lassiter

North Carolina

Lassiter Family Farms has a deep history operating since 1944 when my grandfather purchased 80 acres after World War II. I grew up on the farm with my two brothers, and I want to pass this farm down to my two sons. I’d say about 40-50% of our land is cotton which we process in our personal gin. In 2017, we were selected by Wrangler to be the sustainable growers in their new, local line of jeans which was a big pride moment for all of us. Projects like that and seeing the high-quality cotton makes the weather and unpredictable factors worth it. It is an honor to grow U.S. cotton.

Photo of Lassiter's Cotton Farm in North Carolina

Meet Our Growers

Daniel Baxley

South Carolina

A third-generation farmer, we started off by planting dairy and tobacco and then converted to cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans and wheat around 1980. My dad taught me to always respect the land and to stay patient in a tough business.

 

I took over the operation in 2013 with my mom helping with bookkeeping. I learned quickly how tight knit our community is and how communicating best practices can help improve my land. I learned to keep soil fertility in check, select varieties that work best for my land, how to maintain equipment and manage employees at such a young age with neighboring growers and our community helping along the way.

Photo of Baxley's Cotton Farm in South Carolina

Meet Our Growers

Jimmy Webb

Georgia

Harvey Jordan was my grandfather. He farmed and had a fertilizer plant and a peanut shelling plant. My grandfather collected the land that I farm today. He started accumulating it in 1936. On my dad’s side my grandfather Frederick Webb was the accountant for my other grandfather (Harvey Jordan) – little did they know their children would wind up married. Frederick Webb’s father was a cattle farmer.

I grow around 1,000 acres of cotton and annually produce 2,500-3,000 bales. We have a co-op gin that we started in 1994, and we normally gin around 30,000 bales. We also grow peanuts and corn. We started growing cotton in 1980 because of a soil insect called a nematode. The insect couldn’t survive on cotton and it helped our peanut yields. We stuck with cotton and it has been a good rotational crop. 

We are all irrigated with center pivots. Most of our water source is surface water. We have a network of ditches that were put in the late 60s to help drain some wet areas. We built reservoirs, so we use the runoff from our winter rains to fill them up. We have around 250 acres of them located on our land. It’s a unique design that was put in before we ever stated irrigating. Other acres have wells. We are majority surface water irrigators.

With the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, U.S. growers have our own verification program. It’s grower friendly and really easy to enroll. The U.S. cotton grower has always been sustainable and now we have a verification process that our retailers need.  This will keep U.S. cotton at the forefront and be the choice of cotton for the world.

Photo of Jimmy Webb's Cotton Farm in Georgia

Meet Our Growers

Nick McMichen

Alabama

Our farm has been in our family for 6 generations. We annually plant from 2,000-2,500 acres of cotton producing from 3,500 to 5,000 bales per year. Our farm also grows corn, peanuts, soybeans and wheat. We are primarily cotton growers, but plant other crops for rotation. Our farm is 100% no-till and has been since 1998. We just recently completed the construction of a new state-of-the-art cotton gin, “Cherokee Gin & Cotton Company,” on our farm that gins 80,000 + bales per year. We service customers in 11 counties in three states. This the 4th Gin to be on our farm. My wife is a 4th generation cotton merchant with “Jordan Cotton Inc,” of which she and my daughter operate.

We joined the Trust Protocol because U.S. cotton is the gold standard in the world. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol gives us the opportunity to verify and prove to everyone why we are. The standards U.S. cotton are grown by and the pride and care we put into it are second to none. Our protection of the soil and the environment are hallmarks of our continued dedication to keep raising the bar.

LISTEN TO AUDIO
Photo of Nick McMichen's Cotton Farm in Alabama

Meet Our Growers

Nick Marshall

Florida

My father James has been operating Marshall Farms since 1973 in Okaloosa County. We continue to implement best management practices on each section of land to reduce water, protect wildlife and reduce chemical use.

We also plant cover crops such as wheat and oats which work to improve soil health and reduce erosion. We were selected as two of only 200 growers in the country to participate in cotton variety evaluations in order for the whole growing community to produce a more sustainable product. I serve on the Okaloosa County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, Florida Farm Bureau Federation and am a Florida delegate on the National Cotton Council.

Meet Our Growers

John Lindamood

Tennessee

I am a third-generation cotton grower in Northwest Tennessee where I farm about 5,000 acres with my father and family. My father started grower in 1952 after graduating from Harvard Business School. After graduating in 1984, I followed in his footsteps. We have a strong connection with our community and our gin, which was founded in 1921. About 90% of our cotton is no-till. I use GPS-based soil-samples, technology, precision irrigation and other conservation practices including cover crops to ensure the cotton we grow is sustainable.

LISTEN TO AUDIO
Photo of Lindamood's Cotton Farm in Tennessee

Meet Our Growers

Sledge Taylor

Mississippi

After graduating from Mississippi State University, I returned to our family operation, helping my father produce corn, soybeans, wheat, timber, cattle, peanuts and cotton. I’ve worked on the farm since I was probably 14, and I’ve never missed a year. I care deeply about the sustainability of our land, practicing precision farming and advocating for best practices, conserving the soil and wildlife. In addition to cotton growing, I also have made a career in ginning the natural product. I’ve been involved with the National Cotton Council serving as Chairman in 201 and was President of the National Cotton Ginners Association. I was also selected as the 2015 recipient of the Cotton Grower Cotton Achievement Award.

LISTEN TO AUDIO
Photo of Taylor's Cotton Farm in Mississippi

Meet Our Growers

Laura Collins

Missouri

Our family farm began in 1938 with W.P. Hunter, our grandfather. He leased and cleared 40 acre tracts to grow cotton. He managed with great efficiency and immediately expanded his operation to a cotton gin, fertilizer warehouse, general store, and grain storage. He shut the cotton gin down in 1977 when margins were too tight to operate economically.

I graduated from Mississippi State with a degree in agricultural business in 2003 and formed Willow & Co with Will Hunter. Will Hunter graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in agricultural economics and came back to Sikeston, farming 160 acres of the family ground and running the grain elevator. 

Today, we farm 6,500 acres of cotton, rice, soybeans, and corn in Stoddard, Scott, and New Madrid counties on our family ground and some rented ground. We also expanded our grain facility at our grandfather’s cotton gin location to 665,000 bushels worth of storage capacity.

Photo of Collins' Cotton Farm in Missouri

Meet Our Growers

Nathan Reed

Arkansas

I am a fourth-generation grower from Marianna, Arkansas—the east part of the state. After earning my law degree in 2005, I returned home to work alongside my father growing around 60% cotton—with the rest in rice and soybeans. My operation has a total of about 10 employees—one of whom started working for my grandfather in 1968, Charles Patton. I am a flexible grower, trying new technologies or practices to save water and energy. I’m not afraid to experiment with computer programs and variable rate technology. I was named 2015 Arkansas Farmer of the Year and Arkansas Business 2019 40 Under 40. I live with my wife Kristin and my four children.

As science, the research and studies continue to reveal, biotech crops are continuing to improve our environment, allow us to grow more on less land and improve in areas we never imagined before. As a cotton and corn producer, to me the biggest benefit has been our drastic reduction in pesticide applications.

LISTEN TO AUDIO
Photo of Reed's Cotton Farm in Arkansas

Meet Our Growers

Ted Schneider

Louisiana

Since 1984, I have been the owner and operator of a 3,600-acre farming operation in northeast Louisiana and southeast Arkansas that is dedicated to sustainable, responsible agricultural production. In my farming operations, our primary crops are cotton, corn, soybeans, rice, wheat and grain sorghum. I am a former director of the National Cotton Council (NCC) and am currently a chair for the COTTON USA Sustainability Task Force. Our family farmers constantly use and pursue the latest innovations and technologies to farm sustainably and deliver uniform and consistent cotton for less downtime, more productivity and superior quality yarn, fabric and products. I know how important sustainability is in cotton production, and the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is providing growers like me the opportunity to show how we grow sustainable cotton.

LISTEN TO AUDIO

In a period of ever greater supply chain scrutiny and a growing demand for transparency and assurance, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® sets a new standard for more sustainably grown, premium cotton and can provide transparency from farm to laydown.

Meet Our Growers

Debra Barrett

Texas

In 1981, Debra Barrett, the daughter of a fourth-generation West Texas cotton farmer, married John Barrett a fifth-generation South Texas cotton farmer. For 35 years we operated a successful cotton and grain sorghum farm. Debra now farms with her son David and his wife Miranda. The farm we operate has been in the family for 125 years. I have two grandchildren and have high hopes that they could make seven generations farming in south Texas. I am very excited to share with marketers and retailers the story behind our cotton.

Photo of Debra Barrett's Cotton Farm in Texas

Meet Our Growers

Clint Abernathy

Oklahoma

My name is Clint Abernathy and I own and operate Abernathy Farms along with my two sons Justin and Jarod. My son in law Evan is also a part of the operation, which allows our whole family to be involved. I am a fourth-generation farmer and have been farming for over 40 years. Our farm produces cotton, wheat, and grain sorghum. We also operate a cow-calf operation. Farming and ranching are our only sources of income.

We strive to maintain a sustainable farm with the implementation of new technologies and multiple conservation practices in our daily operation. All our farmland is either no-till or minimum-till and we continue to use and add more drip irrigation each year to conserve water. By moving from furrow irrigation to drip irrigation allows us to conserve not only water but reduces soil erosion as well.

Our farms utilize precision farming technologies using variable rate fertilizer applications that are derived from grid soil sampling and harvest data maps. We are constantly working to become more efficient with fertilizer and chemical applications to shave costs and to be environmentally responsible.
The reason I joined the Cotton Trust Protocol is that it is important to us to be a good steward of our land so that we can leave it to our children and grandchildren in better shape than it is today. Supporting future generation farmers is important to our family. Adopting new and improved farming technologies and practices, while utilizing conservation programs, allows us to do just that.

Meet Our Growers

Kent Dunn

Kansas

4-D Farms has the 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation on the farm today. We have grown cotton here in Southwest Kansas since 2002. We usually have about 2,500 acres of cotton each year and average 1,300-1,500 pounds. We want to be sustainable in all that we do and want the youngest generation to have a chance to farm if they want to. We grow corn, soybeans, Milo, and winter wheat every year along with sunflowers and triticale occasionally.

LISTEN TO AUDIO
Photo at Dunn's Cotton Farm in Kansas

Meet Our Growers

Calvani Family

New Mexico

At Calvani Farms our operation is a family business. We have been farming for five generations and are very proud of that. Our average yield for cotton is 3 bales to the acre. At our farm, we also grow pecans and operate a gift shop called Calvani Pecan Gift Shop. We frequently use our orchard for wedding venues, something we love to be a part of! We joined the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol so that people – especially those who have never farmed land – would have a better understanding of how we manage our land to provide food and fiber. We’re proud to be part of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol.

Meet Our Growers

Adam Hatley

Arizona

I am a third-generation farmer. My grandfather farmed in Arizona and Texas; my dad operated a farm/ranch in West Texas before coming to Arizona. Now, I farm with my son Sonny Hatley. In fact, more than 96% of Arizona’s farms and ranches are family owned and operated. Our farm is the Associated Farming Company and our family works together to run it. Our farm consists of 3,600 leased acres on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community. Our crop acres include: 1,800 acres of cotton, 750 acres of alfalfa, 300 acres of corn, 200 acres of barley and 30 acres of sweet corn.

The most significant change is the introduction of biotechnology in agriculture. Prior to the introduction of biotech, we had large crews in the fields in the heat of summer hoeing weeds and spraying for pink boll worm every 14 days. With the new technology, we can control the weeds with herbicides and the crops are resistant to pink bollworm. Biotechnology has made a positive impact in our industry and in our environment.

Photo of Hatley's Cotton Farm in Arizona

Meet Our Growers

Aaron Barcellos

California

My farm is in the northern central San Joaquin Valley between the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east and the California foothills to the west. I work with my father Arnold, brother Aric and nephew Jake. In the beginning of the 20th century, the area was dairy country, but now it is home to cotton growers. Our industry associations have done an excellent job compiling metrics that clearly document and confirm the sustainability efforts U.S. cotton growers have made and continue to make. We just have to be more deliberate communicating those metrics and our commitment to continuous improvement in a formal program that brands and retailers need and want. This is why the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is so important.

LISTEN TO AUDIO
Photo at Barcellos' Cotton Farm in California

Deepika Mishra

Sustainability Consultant

Deepika Mishra is a passionate, innovative, enthusiastic scientist with demonstrated ability to lead and collaborate worldwide in the development of novel life sciences technologies and techniques to enhance sustainable agriculture to have a true impact that addresses challenges of climate change. She works as a sustainability consultant for the National Cotton Council and Cotton Council International.