Jun 6, 2023
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Organic cotton certification heads into space with new GOTS project

Jun 6, 2023

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and the European Space Agency (ESA) on Tuesday announced a world-first new project to use remote satellite monitoring in organic cotton certification.

Photo: Pexels

They’re using artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite imagery to detect organic versus non-organic cotton fields, “strengthening the integrity of organic cotton cultivation while reducing fraud in organic cotton supply chains”.

Also involved is Marple, a German software start-up that specialises in “developing cutting-edge machine learning and data fusion algorithms for earth observations”. 

The demonstrator project explores the potential of remote monitoring “to strengthen integrity and development of organic cotton cultivation” with the project running across India and its first results expected by the end of the year.

It will be carried out under ESA’s Business Applications and Space Solutions (BASS) programme, training AI to use ESA satellite data to detect the cotton fields and automatically classify them according to their cultivation standard. 

“By integrating standardised yield metrics, this innovative approach will also enable GOTS to generate realistic estimates of organic cotton yields in specific areas,” it said.

Integrated with existing GOTS measures, this project will enable it to “further enhance the integrity of organic cotton by developing advanced risk assessment technology for organic certification and preventing fraud from the beginning of the supply chain”.

In addition to this, it should also “empower GOTS to recognise cotton fields that have not yet obtained organic certification but possess the potential for a seamless transition to organic cultivation, thanks to their utilisation of traditional and ecologically-friendly farming practices”. 

That would mean a larger number of small farmers being brought into the certified organic sector and supply chains. It could be a win-win as it will both offer new economic opportunities for small-scale farmers and their communities and would also help the textile sector to meet growing consumer demand for organic cotton.

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