GOTS has partnered with the European Space Agency (ESA) to explore the potential of remote monitoring technology in organic cotton certification.

In a world first, the partnership will see artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite imagery used to ‘detect organic versus non-organic cotton fields’.

With the first results expected by the end of the year, the project ‘aims to show the potential for remote satellite monitoring of organic cotton cultivation systems’ and will be carried out under ESA’s Business Applications and Space Solutions (BASS) programme.

AI will be trained to identify cotton fields across India and ‘automatically classify them according to their cultivation standard’.

The organizations say that by integrating standardized yield metrics this innovative approach will enable GOTS to produce ‘realistic estimates’ of organic cotton yields in particular regions. By integrating the project’s tech capabilities with its existing measures GOTS says it can 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’.

Technologies like this will be a game changer

GOTS expects the project’s impact to extend beyond identifying certified organic cotton fields, by highlighting those which have not yet obtained certification but which ‘possess the potential for a seamless transition to organic cultivation, thanks to their utilization of traditional and ecologically friendly farming practices’. “This would enable GOTS to bring a greater number of farmers – particularly those of a smaller size – into the certified organic sector and supply chains, creating new economic opportunities for small-scale farmers and their communities while also helping the textile sector to meet growing consumer demand for organic cotton,” says the certifier.

Claudia Kersten, managing director of GOTS, comments: “It is an honour and very exciting to be a partner in this ESA Demonstration Project, and it is living up to our claim to be pioneers serving the sustainable textile sector to enable continuous improvement. Technologies like this will be a game changer regarding the integrity and promotion opportunities of organic cotton.”

Guillaume Prigent, business development and partnerships officer at the ESA, adds: “This project highlights how space solutions can have a positive impact on the world and is the kind of innovation that ESA supports through its Business Applications and Space Solutions programme.”

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Having spent the early part of career putting her BA (Hons) in Media Writing to use as a freelancer writer across a number of industries – from wellbeing, food and travel to design and events – Rosie Greenaway’s post as editor of Natural Products News and Natural Beauty News began in 2017. In 2018 she co-launched NPN’s 30 under 30 initiative, is a regular presenter and speaker on industry panels, is a judge of several awards schemes in food and beauty (from the Soil Association’s BOOM Awards to the Who’s Who in Green Beauty Scandinavia) and acts as an Advisory Board Member for the Sustainable Beauty Coalition.