Development and Implementation of Ecologically-based Cotton Production: A Model System for Fostering Sustainable Communities
This one-year planning grant seeks to develop an IPM program to eliminate the use of Temik (aldicarb) in cotton. An evaluation component documents environmental impacts, behavioral changes in attitudes and economics. Three growers have provided field data to the partners to help develop and document the IPM system that combines conservation tillage and reduced pesticide use on cotton. Four growers have agreed to provide their farms as "showcase sites" (about 1,000 acres). One of these farms, the Tilmanstone Farm managed by Lamar Black, is featured on the Georgia Conservation Tillage Alliance website at www.gcta-ga.org/ The partners are developing an incentive package to increase the adoption of sustainable cotton which includes risk insurance, market place rewards, and discounts. They are also putting together a technical assistance program that will include farm management plans, training and decision supports.
The partners defined current cotton production practices, key barriers to sustainable production and possible alternative practices. They developed and documented a cotton production system that appears to successfully eliminate the use of Temik while reducing the cost of production. Ten acre plots on two farms indicated that cover cropping with legumes, using Round-up Ready (RR) cotton without the use of Temik or other insecticides, resulted in a net increase in profits. They are now completing an incentive package, outreach plan and technical assistance program. The incentive package may include a price premium for certified organic cotton from a local denim fabric mill. The decision-support system and management plans help farmers manage weeds without herbicides. The project partners also succeeded in bringing together farmers and educational programs in Jefferson County and the surrounding area by developing teaching units related to sustainable agriculture. The teaching units focus on challenges farmers face in Jefferson County and link teachers and students with farmers. With the success of the demonstration plots, the partners are now planning research into management practices that could profitably produce certified organic cotton.