GOTS, EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY AND MARPLE LAUNCH WORLD-FIRST PROJECT TO USE REMOTE MONITORING IN ORGANIC COTTON CERTIFICATION
· Project from the Global Organic Textile Standard and European Space Agency will use AI and satellite imagery to detect organic versus non-organic cotton fields
· Innovative demonstrator project explores the potential of remote monitoring to strengthen integrity and development of organic cotton cultivation
· Project will run across India with results expected by the end of 2023
In a world first, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), European Space Agency (ESA) and AI company Marple have today launched a new demonstrator project that aims to show the potential for remote satellite monitoring of organic cotton cultivation systems.
The project, to be carried out under ESA’s Business Applications and Space Solutions (BASS) programme, will train artificial intelligence (AI) to use ESA satellite data to detect cotton fields across India 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.
Integrated with existing GOTS measures, this project will enable GOTS 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. “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.” says Claudia Kersten, Managing Director of GOTS.
The project's anticipated impact extends beyond identifying certified organic cotton fields. It is expected to 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. 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. Guillaume Prigent, Business Development and Partnerships Officer at the European Space Agency, 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.”
The project will run across the distinct cotton growing regions in India, with first results expected by the end of 2023.
India project builds on successful Uzbekistan feasibility pilot
The project is co-financed by GOTS and ESA, in collaboration with Marple GmbH, a German software development firm that developed the CoCuRA (Cotton Cultivation Remote Assessment) software with ESA BASS and successfully piloted it in a feasibility project in 2021 in Uzbekistan.
That venture showed how the trained AI was able to accurately differentiate cotton fields from other crops using only satellite images and sensor data, as well as whether the cotton fields were cultivated organically.
This spurred considerable interest from GOTS, which has committed to the development of cutting-edge technologies that can improve the integrity of the organic textile sector, especially cotton. Dr David Scherf, co-founder of Marple, said: “All our projects strive to leverage advanced technology for a positive impact on the environment and society. We are therefore delighted that our CoCuRA technology, which emerged from a moonshot research project, is being applied in a practical and impactful way. We are excited about the opportunity to work with the exceptional team at GOTS and further strengthen our successful partnership with ESA.”
Supporting images can be downloaded here:
Further details on the project:
Field data to be collected includes GPS polygons (field area), cultivation standard (organic, in-conversion, conventional, GM), crop type (cotton, wheat, maize, etc.), and irrigation method (e.g., rain-fed, flooding, sprinkler, drip); this will be used to train the AI to remotely assess fields that are also outside of the selection area and classify them according to cultivation standard.
Fields that are classified by the AI as non-organic, though certified, can be investigated by the responsible Certifying Body (CB) to prevent fraud before the cotton is harvested and enters the GOTS supply chain.
Marple’s results from the pilot study in Uzbekistan showed that its AI was able to distinguish between organic and conventional cotton with 98% accuracy. It is expected that through this collaboration with GOTS, Marple’s AI will be able to distinguish fields according to multiple cultivation standards, and even more accurately.
NOTES TO EDITORS
GOTS is the stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest processing (including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing) of apparel and home textiles made with certified organic fibre (such as organic cotton and organic wool), and includes both environmental and social criteria.Key provisions include a ban on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), highly hazardous chemicals (such as azo dyes and formaldehyde), and forced labour, while requiring strong social compliance management systems and strict waste water treatment practices.
GOTS was developed by leading international standard setters - Organic Trade Association (U.S.), Japan Organic Cotton Association, International Association Natural Textile Industry (Germany) and Soil Association (UK) to define globally-recognised requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from field to finished product.GOTS is an independent non-profit organisation which is self-financed.For more information please visit www.global-standard.organd follow @globalorganictextilestandard on LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTubeand Facebook.
About Marple GmbH
Marple, a German startup founded in 2021, specializes in developing cutting-edge machine learning and data fusion algorithms for earth observations. The company's projects encompass a wide range of applications, including the automated detection of cars and delivery traffic from aerial imagery, as well as the identification of heat islands within urban areas Request more info on Marple’s projects at www.marple.info.
About the European Space Agency
ESA Business Applications Space Solutions is the go-to place for great business ideas involving space in all areas of society and economy. Our mission is to support entrepreneurs in Europe in the development of business using satellite applications and space technology to improve everyday life, delivering environmental and societal benefits.
Our network includes the ESA Business Applications Ambassadors and the recurring ESA Investor Forum.