Under a memorandum of understanding, TAWC will serve as advisors to Wrangler's U.S. sustainable cotton program, and Wrangler will help raise awareness for best practices produced by TAWC’s on-farm research.
Based at Texas Tech University, the TAWC, a part of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, is a partnership of producers, technology firms, universities and government agencies working to extend the life of the largest subterranean aquifer in the U.S., the Ogallala Aquifer.
Stretching from the Texas Panhandle in the south to the northern boundary of Nebraska, the aquifer lies beneath one of the most important agricultural regions in the U.S. Weather patterns and increasing water demands have depleted the aquifer in recent years, threatening the viability of crops and population centers, as witnessed during the historic drought years of 2011 and 2012.
“Our mission is to conserve water for future generations by identifying agricultural practices and technologies that reduce the depletion of groundwater while maintaining or improving agricultural production and economic opportunities,” said TAWC project director Rick Kellison. “Through a focus on soil health, Wrangler’s U.S. cotton program is aligned with our mission, and working with the well-known brand will add credibility and awareness to our work.”
About 50 percent of the cotton in Wrangler’s products is grown domestically, and the brand is committed to working with U.S. growers to maintain the profitability of the industry while improving its resilience and reducing environmental impacts. Wrangler has formed a coalition of industry, academic and nonprofit partners focused on soil health practices as the key to producing more sustainable cotton in the U.S.
“Healthy soil is a common denominator for farmer profitability and sustainable cotton production,” said Roian Atwood, sustainability director for Wrangler. “However, soil types are different from farm to farm. The expertise and technical assistance TAWC provides for comparing cropping and livestock systems is invaluable for Texas growers, and we’re glad to be working with them.”
The memorandum of understanding between Wrangler and TAWC focuses on sharing best practices for efficient water use and the building of healthy soils, which contributes to water retention, higher yields, fewer agricultural inputs and other long-term environmental and social benefits. Wrangler is scheduled to participate in TAWC’s Water College, an educational event for Texas growers, scheduled for Jan. 24 at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center.
Cotton is the largest agricultural crop in Texas, and Texas is the nation’s leading cotton state, producing approximately 25 percent of the entire U.S. cotton crop annually. Cotton is studied intensively in Texas Tech research laboratories, and the crop is even represented in the university seal.
Founded in 2005, TAWC’s early focus included creating technology solutions to accurately measure and track water application. Since then, the organization has expanded its work to include test sites throughout nine cotton-growing counties in Texas.
Wrangler also has a long-term focus on water conservation. Last year the Greensboro, North Carolina-based apparel brand passed a milestone of more than 3 billion liters of water saved since 2007 and announced a goal to reduce water usage at its facilities by 20 percent by 2020.