A new grant from the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation and the Soil Health Institute centered around regenerative cotton-growing practices aims to eliminate 1 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2026. 

The $5 million grant will establish the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund (USRCF), which will distribute funding to cotton farmers in Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and Georgia for adopting practices like cover cropping and no-till. According to a release, the program is also eying expansion into Alabama, North Carolina, Missouri, California and Oklahoma. 

“We are very grateful for the opportunity to promote soil health and to assist cotton farmers across the U.S. with storing more carbon, building drought resilience, and mitigating the very effects of climate change that are impacting us all,” Cristine Morgan, the chief scientific officer for the Soil Health Institute and leader of the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund, said in the release.

According to the release, the USRCF will measure soil health and carbon sequestration using an approach created by the Soil Health Institute called “soil health and soil carbon targets.”

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Soil Health Institute Sustainability Specialist Byron Rath told Agri-Pulse in an email that this approach establishes "place-based, measurable goals for farmers that provide them with specific details on what level of soil health is possible for their particular soils, along with the benefits from achieving that higher level of soil health."

"Because soil carbon is one important measure of soil health, we can also determine the carbon sequestration capacity of any given soil," Rath's email said. 

Additionally, the release said the fund will work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to “develop increased access to career paths in decision-making positions in U.S. agriculture and establish mentoring programs to help prepare the next generation of scientists and leaders in agriculture.”

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