Cotton’s Digital Adventure

The project aims to increase resource efficiency and achieve sustainable production in the cotton production value chain in the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) Region. Given its comprehensive set-up, the project will be the first of its kind in Turkey and also one of the pioneering projects in field crops globally. Digital technologies such as field sensors, drip irrigation and fertigation technologies run by an algorithm, drone images, satellite images and climate station data will be essential components of the project. All of the digital and analog observations and measurements will reside in data refinery. These data will be used to create information runways where best decisions will be made by use of smart technologies such as Internet of Things and machine learning.

This will be achieved by:

  • Developing a smart production methodology enabled by IoT technologies
  • Developing a digital traceability model for cotton value chain-from field to the ginning facilities
  • Developing the algorithm and data analytics structure to process big data,
  • Measuring input savings with use of digital technologies and increasing quality and yield,
  • Identifying resource inefficiencies in the production chain,
  • Measuring both the economic and environmental impacts of technology adoption in the value chain.

Cotton’s history in Anatolia dates back to the 1st Century AD. During the reign of the Seljuks in the 11th and the Ottoman Empire, especially in the 13th and 14th centuries, cotton farming was highly promoted. After the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, two production stations were founded, in Adana in 1924 and in Nazilli (in Aydın) in 1934. In 1932 only around 138,000 ha land were planted with cotton.

The textile and clothing industry contribute significantly to Turkey’s economy and cotton is still the basic raw material of this important industry. Although domestic cotton production in Turkey continues to grow, it is not sufficient to meet the increasing demand from the textile and clothing industry. Cotton farms are mostly small-scale and family-run. Today, only Upland cotton (G.hirsutum L.) is grown in Turkey. Turkey is world’s sixth largest cotton producer, ranks fifth in per area productivity and fourth largest importer. In 2019, cotton in Turkey was grown on a total area of 478,000 hectares and 43% of total planted area was in Şanlıurfa province. The total production amounted to 814,000 metric tons and 37% of total production was in Şanlıurfa province. In 2019, 65,412 farmers produced cotton in Turkey and 30,123 of these farmers, about 46% of the total, were operating in Şanlıurfa province.