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Grant focuses on nutrient management in Midwest

Four agricultural retailers in Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN network work with growers to accelerate adoption of precision nutrient management.

Truterra LLC and the Soil & Water Conservation Society (SWCS) have been awarded $1.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to accelerate the adoption of precision nutrient management and soil health practices in partnership with agricultural retailers in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

Truterra, formerly Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN, is the sustainability solutions business of Land O'Lakes Inc., one of America's largest farmer-owned cooperatives. SWCS is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization that serves as an advocate for conservation professionals and for science-based conservation practices, programs and policy.

The joint project between Truterra and SWCS, titled "Advancing Precision Nutrient & Soil Health Management with Retailer Cooperatives," will help four agricultural retailers in the Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN network set up innovation trial programs for growers to demonstrate -- across three years of crop production -- the benefits of a full-system approach to precision agriculture. The trials will use the Truterra Insights Engine, a leading on-farm conservation management platform, to help collect and measure findings.

"At Truterra, we know that collaboration drives stewardship. This grant is a monumental step in public/private collaboration supporting on-farm stewardship," Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN senior vice president Matt Carstens said. "With the Soil & Water Conservation Society and agricultural retailers, we are working together to build a system of change that seeks to increase and accelerate the rate of stewardship adoption around the country."

Project partners will support agricultural retailers in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska to engage producers in on-farm trials that demonstrate the agronomic, environmental and economic incentives for conservation practice adoption. Through firsthand experience, the project aims to increase producer knowledge of these practices, integrate conservation management programs into retailer services and broaden and accelerate conservation practice adoption. In addition to administering the program, SWCS will provide scientific support to help evaluate environmental outcomes.

"We are excited for this incredible opportunity to collaborate with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Truterra to implement on-the-ground conservation activities and evaluate their impact," SWCS chief executive officer Clare Lindahl said. "The Soil & Water Conservation Society's ability to bring together multiple perspectives around the newest research and technologies puts us in a strong position to simultaneously deliver innovative approaches to on-farm conservation and evaluate impact through a scientific lens. We look forward to strengthening public- and private-sector partnerships in the conservation space for the betterment of our natural resources and the future of agriculture through this project."

The funding is provided through the On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, a new component of the Conservation Innovation Grants first authorized in the Conservation Title of the 2018 farm bill. The improved grants program is one of many policy changes in the 2018 farm bill championed by Land O'Lakes. These policy improvements can help make on-farm conservation practices easier and more accessible to farmers and agricultural retailers.

The program will work with growers to implement a full suite of zone prescriptions, variable-rate technology applications, stabilizers and tillage management in an effort to help enhance both profitability and environmental performance. Cover crops are also be included in the program.

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