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LOGO: Journal of Cotton Science


A Scan Level Cotton Carbon Life Cycle Assessment: Has Bio-Tech Reduced the Carbon Emissions from Cotton Production in the USA?

Authors: L. Lanier Nalley, Diana M. Danforth, Zara Niederman, and Tina Gray Teague
Pages: 80-88
Agronomy and Soils

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are a growing concern for agricultural producers given increased pressure from government, consumers and retail purchasers. This study addresses the changes in greenhouse gas emissions in cotton over time (using years 1997, 2005 and 2008) due to changing production methods including tillage and seed technology. Time series data in this study comes from a single farm in Arkansas with detailed records of seed used, all inputs used (e.g. fertilizers, agrochemicals, irrigation), as well as machinery and tillage type for each of over 121 fields over 11 growing seasons. Results indicate yields increased dramatically (68%) over that time, due primarily to seed technology. At the same time, agrochemical use and fuel use decreased in 2008, primarily due to Bollgard II® Roundup Ready® Flex seed technology and the resulting reduced tillage. Reduced inputs can result in lower costs for producers, as well as reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing yields with reduction in input use reduces the overall greenhouse gas emissions per pound of cotton produced, resulting in benefits to producers, consumers who demand such traits, and the environment. However, due to the proliferation of glyphosate-resistant pigweed (Amaranthus palmeri), the decreases in greenhouse gas emissions per pound of cotton that were observed over the past decade may be reversed.