Cargill to advance regenerative agriculture practices across 10 million acres by 2030
Cargill has announced it is supporting farmer-led efforts to adopt regenerative agriculture practices and systems across 10 million acres of North American farmland over the next 10 years.
Cargill expects these regenerative agriculture practices to benefit the long-term profitability and resiliency of farmers while simultaneously advancing the company's progress against its science-based climate commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its global supply chains by 30% per ton of product by 2030. The initiative will also contribute to Cargill’s efforts to protect and enhance water resources.
“At Cargill, we view agriculture as an opportunity because we know agriculture is how we’ll ensure a safe, responsible, and sustainable food system,” said Ryan Sirolli, Cargill sustainability director for row crops, in a Cargill news release. “When farmers adopt practices, and ultimately systems, such as reducing or eliminating tillage and adding cover crops, we can help mitigate climate change and protect water resources while improving the resiliency of the soil. Investing in soil health principles is how agriculture can help enhance farmer livelihoods while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving water quality, and increasing drought resilience.”
While pockets of regenerative agriculture systems exist in North America, there is a need to more rapidly scale soil health practices so that nature and people – including farmers – can reap the benefits.
“The land is a farmer’s most valuable asset — key to their livelihood and productivity,” added Sirolli. “By supporting adoption of soil health principles with our farm partners, we can build healthy soils, increase resiliency and profitability, and ensure their success and the viability of their land for future generations.”
Through the initiative, Cargill will work with partners and other stakeholders across the supply chain to provide farmers access to technical and agronomic resources that support yield and profit objectives, training opportunities, support with data collection for benchmarking, and visibility to the needs of downstream consumer-facing companies.
Understanding the financial pressures farmers are facing, Cargill will help connect farmers to cost-sharing options and support the development of new market-based solution, say Cargill officials. This will incentivize outcomes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve and protect water quality, like the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund, of which Cargill is a founding member, say Cargill officials.
"To feed a growing population and protect our planet, we need to celebrate and elevate farmers who are adopting sustainable agriculture practices and caring for the land while feeding the world. By collaborating across the supply chain with farmers, ranchers, customers and partners, we can scale solutions that drive lasting change,” said Jill Kolling, Cargill vice president of global sustainability.
Partnering for Impact
Cargill has established multiple partnerships to help implement soil health practices and provide dedicated resources to promote regenerative agriculture systems. Cargill already has several efforts underway to support the 10-million-acre initiative including:
- Establishment of the Soil & Water Outcomes Fund. This partnership with the Iowa Soybean Association and Quantified Ventures helps row-crop farmers implement regenerative agriculture practices. Farmers are incentivized on a per-acre basis for adopting practices like planting cover crops, reducing tillage, and optimizing nutrient management. In the first year, 9,500 acres were enrolled in the program.
- Working in partnership with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Cargill collaborates with Ohio State Water Quality Extension Associates to engage farmers in implementing agriculture practices focused on soil health and nutrient management.
- Through its BeefUp Sustainability initiative, Cargill has teamed up with The Nature Conservancy, McDonald's, and Target to support Nebraska farmers in further adoption and implementation of proven soil health practices to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help farmers adapt to climate change. The five-year, $8.5 million project will impact 100,000 acres of row crops and feed production in a key beef producing region.
- Cargill is partnering with the Soil Health Institute to assess, demonstrate, and communicate the economics of soil health management systems across North America. As part of the work, Soil Health Institute scientists have analyzed over 120 experimental research sites across North America to gather data on soil health management practices and interviewed 100 farmers across nine states to assess impacts of soil health management practices on farmers’ profitability.
- Working with the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI), Cargill has launched two pilot programs focused on boosting adoption of cover crops in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Through the partnership, PFI consults with farmers at no cost, and helps connect them to additional resources such as field days and webinars. To date, 201 farmers are enrolled in the programs, covering over 26,000 acres.
- Cargill has partnered with The Nature Conservancy on two soil health projects establishing nearly 900 acres of cover crop demonstration sites in Minnesota with the goal of educating farmers on the benefits of cover crops and incentivizing adoption of these practices. By planting cover crops, soil health in the area will improve and local water systems will be better protected, say Cargill officials.
- Cargill agronomists in Canada work with farmers to incorporate 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles and practices into fertility plans. These practices have been shown to improve the quality of water, soil, and air while contributing to the long-term profitability of the farm.