The past 13 years of my cotton career have been spent working as the Southeast regional communication manager for The Cotton Board. This job has given me the unique opportunity to have an insider’s view into all the work, advancements and accomplishments generated by the Cotton Research and Promotion Program.
I always like to say that the cotton industry is a family. Though we’ve faced hardships over the years, it has found a way to rally together for the betterment of our industry through the program.
Just like photos in a family album, I’m able to look back on program milestones with fondness and pride. Call it reminiscing if you will, but I think it is important for the next generation of this cotton family to understand where we’ve come from to navigate to where we need to go in the future.
Since Cotton Incorporated was founded in 1970 as the research and marketing partner for the program, its researchers have created many new technologies that make cotton production more profitable. Many of its innovations are familiar to those of us in the cotton industry, but you might not have known that program dollars were behind them.
From Research To Marketing
During the past 50 years, Cotton Incorporated has funded thousands of agricultural research projects at the farm level to help upland cotton producers increase yields; protect the crop from insects, weeds and diseases; and control costs.
At the fiber level, Cotton Incorporated has worked to increase the demand for cotton through fabric innovations and marketing campaigns that open new doors for cotton and its products, making cotton the “fabric of our lives.” And it continues to conduct research and marketing to increase the value of cottonseed.
Cotton Incorporated has worked relentlessly to educate consumers about the benefits of cotton and to research and improve cotton production practices to increase producer profitability.
From the creation of the first cotton module-builder and the introduction of the Seal of Cotton trademark in the 1970s to the work being done to share cotton’s sustainability story today, Cotton Incorporated has led the cotton industry forward for the past 50 years.
I asked Dr. Ed Barnes, the senior director of agricultural research at Cotton Incorporated, what innovations we could be watching for in the future.
“Advances in automation technologies and advanced data analytics are providing new tools that will continue to make our cotton producers even more efficient and profitable in the future,” he says. “A good example is in a recent project with the National Cotton Ginners, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service gin labs, Texas A&M and the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) we gained new insights to the ginning process. One of the most exciting and necessary developments we are already seeing is autonomous vehicles coupled with machine visions systems to tackle herbicide-resistant weeds.”
Cotton Incorporated is in this for the long haul and is prepared to navigate the uncertain times ahead. As a program, The Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated have established goals and strategies to ensure cotton remains viable and profitable for years to come.
I have all the faith in the world that the Cotton Research and Promotion Program will continue to thrive and serve the next generation of our cotton family well.
Monty Bain is the Cotton Board’s regional communication manager for the Southeast. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.