Together, American Farmland Trust (AFT) will collaborate with Danone North America, Sustainable Environmental Consultants, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) and others in the private sector to help farmers in the dairy supply chain provide feed grain to Danone North America’s (Danone NA) dairy farmers to build holistic soil health management systems. Work will be completed across both Danone NA’s currently enrolled farms as well as other farms in the proposed project area and is made possible through the funding of The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Direct corporate engagement with farms in supply chains offers a unique opportunity to involve more farms and deliver more conservation on the ground, AFT stated. AFT will work with farmers that are part of the dairy supply chain in a seven-county area in west-central Ohio and farmers that are part of the supply chain in western Kansas to conduct effective one-on-one farmer engagement, benchmarking of farm practices, development of continuous improvement plans and implementation of improved soil health management practices.
“We are excited to partner with these forward-thinking companies and organizations in providing one-on-one assistance to farmers and helping them reap the many benefits that result from implementing soil health systems. We also appreciate the funding provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that makes this critical work possible,” expresses Brian Brandt, AFT agriculture conservation innovations director.
AFT will conduct two primary activities leading to positive outcomes in the target areas of the two states. These activities include: 1) targeted technical assistance and support for farm operators; and 2) evaluation and assessment of farm management practices including existing benchmarked practices and new soil health management practices. In addition, AFT will act as a central hub of communication between NRCS, project partners and farm operators in seeking federal, state and other cost-share opportunities to assist in implementing identified practices.
Healthier soils can result in increased agricultural profitability, reduced sediment and nutrient losses and making agriculture communities more resilient to extreme weather conditions. Through AFT’s farmer outreach and education events, AFT has learned that farmers believe the scientific evidence that soil health practices improve soil and water quality. AFT will work closely with project partners to assess what soil health practices will most benefit farmers in the two project areas and to connect with farmers that are ready to begin implementation.
“Together, we hope to better understand the impact of combinations of conservation practices within farm management systems on overall soil health as well as on water quality and greenhouse emissions,” AFT said.