The Newby family has been growing cotton for seven generations.

Wrangler is doing its part to help both cotton farmers and the environment.

The denim brand owned by VF Corp. has launched a pilot program in the U.S. to help cotton growers reach the next level in their drive to develop sustainable farming practices.

During the Sustainable Brands conference in Detroit this week, Wrangler’s sustainability director Roian Atwood said: “Scientific research shows greater attention to soil health can further reduce the water and energy inputs required to grow cotton and other crops. We’re working with a cotton grower in Alabama to explore the best way to implement and measure the effects of robust soil practices like no-till, crop rotation and cover cropping. We hope to have dozens of growers in the program within a few years.”

Wrangler has chosen the Newby family, seventh-generation farmers from Athens, Ala., to help it achieve these goals. The company will work with the Newbys as well as advisers from the Soil Health Institute to improve cotton yield, irrigation water, energy inputs, greenhouse gas emissions and soil conservation. In addition, 40,000 pounds of the Newbys cotton will be used to make a special collection of Wrangler jeans that will be sold in 2018.

“Our family has always looked for new ways to make farming more economical, while taking better care of the land,” said Jerry Allen Newby. “There’s been a learning curve, but we’re beginning to see good results with things like cover crops and soil grid mapping. We’re happy to work with Wrangler, share what we’ve learned and maybe make it easier for other growers to transition to these practices.”

Wrangler purchases about half of the cotton used in its products from U.S. farmers. It has been a corporate sponsor of Future Farmers of America for over 50 years, and recently hosted a conference at its Greensboro, N.C., headquarters on soil health. Wrangler has also committed to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025.

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