General Mills continues to invest in soil health practices on U.S. farmland, announcing this week a new contribution of $735,000 to the National Wheat Foundation (NWF) that, together with the Soil Health Partnership (SHP), will advance widespread adoption and implementation.
The funds, equally distributed over the next three years, will be used to conduct soil health research on wheat farms and educational outreach to more than 125,000 wheat farmers across the northern and southern Plains. This latest contribution brings General Mills’ recent financial commitments to nearly $3 million for promoting the expanded adoption of soil health practices.
“We know that providing farmers with the research and tools to increase their yields while improving the quality of their soil is a vital step in ensuring agricultural lands are sustainable for generations to come,” said John Church, chief supply chain officer for General Mills. “If we intend to see widespread adoption of these practices, we have to demonstrate both environmental and economic benefits over the long term.”
NWF will use the established network of farms enrolled in SHP to increase grower participation in the partnership and share data and sustainability metrics for wheat production. The outreach will be conducted over the course of three years, encompassing three growing seasons.
SHP is a data-driven program working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health from an economic as well as environmental standpoint. Those practices include reduced tillage, growing cover crops in winter and advanced nutrient management. Benefits include improved crop yield, enhanced water quality, increased drought resilience, better flood resistance and decreased greenhouse gas emissions.
“Our project started in the Corn Belt, but soil is a national resource that we need to protect and enhance everywhere farmers grow crops,” SHP director Nick Goeser said. “Soil health is the next frontier in American agriculture, and we’re eager to invite more wheat farmers in more states to join us, expanding our efforts and generating results that will help other farmers see the benefits.”
As part of this agreement, General Mills has partnered with SHP and NWF to provide on-farm mentoring for the farm operators. SHP farmers, their agronomists and SHP field managers will train new and existing farm staff in advanced nutrient management and tillage methods.
“Wheat growers recognize the importance of being good stewards of the land, because healthy land and soil means better crops,” NWF chairman and North Carolina wheat grower Phil McLain said. “Through this grant, we will highlight how wheat farmers integrate good conservation and sustainability practices into their farms and the benefits to their operations and the value chain. The foundation is excited to work with two like-minded organizations in such a unique project that can lead to scientifically sound data on farming practices for growers while ensuring a quality product for consumers.”