Companies, green groups partner for soil health

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2016 - Several major agricultural and food companies are combining resources with environmental groups to support on-farm conservation and improve soil health.

The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative was launched today at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. The initiative is designed to accelerate the Soil Health Partnership's leadership in helping farmers adopt practices such as cover cropping and the use of no-till techniques that protect natural resources while potentially increasing profits, according to a release from the National Corn Growers Association. SHP is a farmer-led initiative of the NCGA established in 2014.

Together we can feed the Bees"

“Through healthy soil, farmers can play a major role protecting water quality and the environment-while also optimizing their crop yields and economic returns,” said Nick Goeser, director of the SHP. “We're honored to welcome the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative to our program. Their support will amplify our research and communications efforts in helping farmers find practices that work best for them.”

The Collaborative's founding members include Cargill, the Environmental Defense Fund, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Monsanto, PepsiCo, The Nature Conservancy, Walmart and the World Wildlife Fund.  The overall shared goal is to help achieve a 45 percent nutrient loss reduction by 2035 across the Upper Mississippi River Basin - chiefly nitrogen and phosphorus.

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As part of this effort, the Collaborative has committed to raise $4 million over five years to augment the Soil Health Partnership, NCGA said. SHP has already enrolled more than 65 farm sites in nine Midwestern states, and the new alliance will help SHP achieve the goal of enrolling 100 farms a full two years earlier than planned.

NCGA says the new funding commitment recognizes SHP as the leader in field-scale testing and measuring of management practices that improve soil health.

“As a farmer, I am committed to soil health because I know we have to constantly improve how we care for our land and how we farm it,” said Roger Zylstra, a SHP-enrollee from Lynnville. “This funding commitment is significant to me because now we have more support from the large food and ag companies as well as environmental groups pushing for change. They're showing us we don't have to do it alone.”

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