Cotton growers are making great strides in reducing soil erosion, which, when unchecked, depletes one of agriculture's most fundamental resources. A variety of farming techniques, such as conservation tillage — mixing and disturbing the soil as little as possible - and planting winter, or cover crops, have been modernized and improved upon to conserve soil by preventing erosion and by actually helping to encourage soil creation.
Residues from a previous crop protect the soil surface while the cotton canopy develops.
Over the last 10 years, cotton has made great strides in reducing the use of tilling and in adopting the practice of growing winter or cover crops. Scientific research shows that these improved conservation tillage practices dramatically reduce soil erosion, and actually bring these activities into balance with soil creation.
Modern production practices allow cotton growers to achieve high levels of soil conservation and input efficiencies that both increase yield and reduce production cost. The environmental and economic benefits, coupled with mandatory regulations and requirements for compliance, are strong incentives for producers to take every practical measure possible to protect the soil.
Cotton is highly tolerant of soil and water salinity (salt content) and can be grown with water and soil resources that would otherwise be unsuitable for other food, feed, and fiber crops Cotton's high level of tolerance of salinity lets producers make use of drainage or reclaimed water that otherwise would require environmentally-challenging waste disposal, another achievement of modern farming technology in practice.