Wrangler’s new sustainability project supports the first link in the denim supply chain. The company announced Wednesday the launch of a pilot program to help U.S. cotton farmers reach the next level in sustainable growing practices.

The heritage denim brand is working the Newby family, seventh-generation farmers from Alabama, to explore the best way to implement and measure the effects of soil practices like no-till, crop rotation and cover cropping.

“Scientific research shows greater attention to soil health can further reduce the water and energy inputs required to grow cotton and other crops,” said Wrangler Sustainability Director Roian Atwood.

The Newby family will work with Wrangler and advisors from the Soil Health Institute (SHI) to research improvements in cotton yield, irrigation water, energy inputs, greenhouse gas emissions and soil conservation. Wrangler plans to use 40,000 lbs. of the Newby’s cotton to make a special collection of jeans that will be sold in 2018.

“There’s been a learning curve, but we’re beginning to see good results with things like cover crops and soil grid mapping,” said Jerry Allen Newby. “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 roughly half of the cotton for its products from U.S. growers. The pilot program builds on the company’s long-standing commitment to supporting U.S. farming communities and other programs including a commitment to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025, zero waste facilities and manufacturing and technology improvements that have saved 3 billion liters of water over the last decade.