As we source more corn than any other agricultural raw material, we wanted to support growers as they work to improve their environmental stewardship. In 2018, we partnered with Truterra™ (formerly Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN), the sustainable solutions business of America’s largest farmer-owned cooperative, to develop a sustainable agriculture programme that uses cutting-edge technology to enable farmers to more effectively target and measure the impact of efforts to protect the environment.
This first-of-its-kind programme began as a pilot in 2018, with 310,000 acres of corn in the U.S. Midwest enrolled in our sustainability programme with Truterra™. In September 2019, we expanded this coverage to 1.5 million acres, representing the amount of corn we buy globally each year.
As an active member of Field to Market, we are proud to have the largest registered continuous improvement project to date. Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, is a US-based collaboration extending throughout the agricultural value chain focused on providing opportunities for continuous improvement in environmental outcomes.
Programme results and highlights
The programme has been running for three years and continues to support 1.5 million acres, more than 22,000 fields and over 1,800 growers.
In spite of the challenges that the pandemic posed to the agriculture sector, our first year-on-year progamme results show that farmers have been helped to achieve modest environmental improvements on retained acres*.
- Greenhouse gases were reduced by 2%, the equivalent of removing 2,430 cars from the road in one year.
- Soil quality has improved slightly as measured by the Soil Conditioning Index (SCI), while topsoil erosion reduced by 1%. SCI is a tool used to gauge organic matter levels in soil, which is an important metric as organic matter is a primary indicator of soil quality, the capacity to sustain plant productivity. Soil organic matter is an important factor in carbon sequestration, the long-term storage of carbon dioxide, and efforts to tackle global climate change.
- Nitrogen use efficiency measures the efficiency with which soil nitrate-N from fertilizer, crop residue, manure, and soil organic matter, is converted into grain-N. Nitrogen use efficiency continues to be considered advanced within the industry at 0.93 pounds of Nitrogen per bushel; a 1% increase from 2019.
*While we have 1.5 million acres in the programme, we report results from ‘retained acres’ which are those acres that were in the programme in 2019 and 2020. Retained acres in 2020 were 1.24 million, representing an 86% grower retention rate, which we believe speaks to the value our partners see in the programme.