Table of Contents



Agriculture: We Can Sustain It

Socializing Agriculture

Painter of Quiet Places

An Apple a Day

Sustaining the Four Sixes

Hitting Pay Dirt


The New Face of Agriculture

The Winds of Change

Avatars Animate Agriculture

Professors in Training

Going Green

Saving Lives One Plan at a Time


Protecting Our Food

Quality Cells, Consumer Buys

Tech's New Mate

Micro ZAP

Food Saftey in Mexico


Expanding Opportunities

No Bits About It

The Family Farm Fire Man

Around the World with CASNR

Live From Texas Tech


Looking Forward

Getting Schooled

A Cotton Senstaion

Living and Learning

More Than a Trophy


Online Exclusives

Alumni Lance Barnett: Unpeeled

Agricultural Education and CommunicationDepartment Shines in 2010

CSI: Classroom Soil Investigation

Facing Nature


Healing Hooves

Parking and Partying in Style

Raider Red Meats

Standing TALL

Tech Takes Flight

West Texas Cotton Goes Global





Going Green

By Amber Oldham


From the crop to a closet, cotton’s impact runs deeper than soil. It’s the comfort of a well-worn pair of jeans or a favorite t-shirt and is known as “the fabric of our lives.” However, cotton fiber will soon undergo a revolutionary change to make it a greener, more sustainable fiber.

Continuing their partnership, Texas Tech University and Bayer CropScience will research and develop a bioengineered cotton fiber. Thomas Thompson, chair of the Plant and Soil Sciences Department at Texas Tech, explained the department’s role in this project.

“We deal with cotton both on the genetic and cell level – all the way up to the finished processing and understanding the properties of textiles,” Thompson said. “This partnership gives Bayer the opportunity to really accelerate this process by bringing new and different kinds of expertise from Texas Tech.”

Mike Gilbert, Bayer CropScience vice president of global plant breeding and trait development, explained the meaning behind Project Revolution.

“When the grower produces cotton,” Gilbert explained, “the inputs versus what we are able to yield work out to be a sustainable process.”

However, Gilbert said when the cotton leaves the gin, processing cotton becomes less productive.

“After cotton is shipped to the textile mills, especially the dying process could be improved,” Gilbert explained. “Cotton fiber is negatively charged as most of the dyes used in the process. Therefore, the fiber must be treated with chemicals for efficient dye uptake.”

The goal of Project Revolution, Gilbert stated, is to create a bioengineered, greener cotton fiber.

“We are working with Texas Tech to develop a fiber that reduces the need for chemical processing,” Gilbert said. “In other words, we want to improve this crop to be a very sustainable product not only at the producer level, but at the processing stage as well. The fiber we’re coming up with will be a very environmentally-friendly product as compared to the fiber that’s on the market today.”

While the potential of this new cotton fiber is exciting, Gilbert said this fiber will have to yield like other cottons and be well-adapted to West Texas. Not only does Bayer CropScience want a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly fiber, but they want the farmer to benefit above all.

“We believe at the end of the day, it’s going to bring more value to the supply chain and especially the grower,” Gilbert said.

To engineer this new cotton fiber, Texas Tech and Bayer CropScience will need to finish mapping the cotton genome. According to Thompson, the department has already started on this endeavor through new research projects and the purchasing of more sophisticated equipment.

“We already have Texas Tech scientists involved,” Thompson said. “From looking at genes and how they might control these new fiber properties to how does this affect the economics of production and utilization of cotton fibers.”

Thompson also stated his anticipation of the project’s future.

“It’s a new way of doing things, and it’s exciting because we’re working directly with industry,” Thompson said. “This is not only going to train students to do some exciting science, but also potentially result in some marketable intellectual property for Texas Tech, not to mention Bayer.”

As Bayer CropScience and Texas Tech work diligently on Project Revolution, the cotton fiber will be subjected to a research exploration toward a greener fabric. Until then, the farmer will continue to produce “the fabric of our lives” while the consumer shops for their next pair of well-worn jeans.