Syngenta and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced April 29 a new Innovation for Nature collaboration to promote soil health, resource efficiency and habitat protection in major agricultural regions worldwide. It brings together Syngenta’s research and development capabilities and TNC’s scientific and conservation expertise to scale up sustainable agricultural practices.
Syngenta and TNC have worked together for more than a decade on various projects that support sustainable agriculture. Syngenta said the collaboration is intended to demonstrate how a company can re-evaluate its business strategy by incorporating sustainability science into its decision-making process and engaging with farmers in new ways. The organizations are exploring investments in new precision agriculture solutions, cover cropping, integrated pest management, biological solutions, remote sensing and analytics, improved seed varieties and other advances. By joining forces, TNC and Syngenta aim to identify and test new innovations and technology that can benefit farmers and the environment at a greater pace and scale than either organization could achieve on its own.
“We are delighted to be furthering our work with The Nature Conservancy; we very much value their expertise in conservation and their collaborative and pragmatic approach to helping farmers incorporate more sustainable approaches on their farms,” Syngenta chief executive officer Erik Fyrwald said. “Through this collaboration, we aim to shape our innovation pipeline for greater environmental benefits and to make a step change in agronomic practices for better soil health, resource efficiency and climate resilience.”
The multiyear collaboration is focused on driving better conservation outcomes through Syngenta’s commercial network and its research and development capabilities – as well as partnering with international organizations, growers and communities. Independent third-party experts will be engaged, where appropriate, to help assess whether the collaboration is delivering a measurable benefit for nature. The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, with its focus on helping smallholder farmers while improving their farm productivity and access to markets, will also be integral to the collaboration.
“Growing and producing food sustainably is critical as we take on climate change and other global challenges,” TNC CEO Mark Tercek said. “To protect nature – and all of us who depend on nature – our food system must do more to prevent deforestation, protect biodiversity and enhance soil health. Our collaboration with Syngenta is a step in the right direction and shows how two organizations with different missions and purposes can work together and look at innovation in a new way.”
Also as part of the collaboration, Syngenta and TNC are now working together to improve resource efficiency, soil health and habitat conservation in the following key agricultural geographies:
- Argentina -- In the Chaco region, work will focus on maintaining biodiversity and resilient ecosystems. The project is designed to restore and maintain forest habitat, which aids in regulating nutrient cycling and pests, creates windbreaks against soil erosion, captures carbon and improves freshwater quality. Through the collaboration, Syngenta and TNC will develop guidelines for suggested best practices and a toolkit for producers.
- Brazil -- The collaboration will generate new research on the agronomic and conservation benefits of protected and reforested habitat to research and disseminate the economic benefits of best agricultural practices with a focus on improving land productivity on degraded pastures.
- China -- In cooperation with Chinese enterprises and academia, the focus will be on the health and productivity of soil in arid potato-growing regions. The organizations are assessing and testing the environmental and industrial consequences of continuous cropping of potatoes and working to explore a science-based, sustainable crop rotation model for the region.
- Kenya -- In Murang’a county, a densely populated region outside Nairobi, the team is working with farmers to implement practices to capture and store rainwater for off-season irrigation, which provides opportunities to increase farm income. It also helps reduce soil erosion, which benefits soil fertility, yields and water quality. The project also includes soil testing and agronomic training on integrated pest management practices to help farmers maximize benefits from off-season irrigation.
- U.S. -- Working across Syngenta’s network of agricultural product retailers, the collaboration aims to encourage and incentivize the adoption of conservation practices such as nutrient management, edge-of-field practices and habitat preservation, with an initial focus on agriculture in the Saginaw Bay and Western Lake Erie watersheds.
Earlier this month, Syngenta announced that it is accelerating its innovation to address the increasing challenges faced by farmers around the world, including climate change, soil erosion and biodiversity loss, as well as changing consumer expectations and views on agricultural technology. Focus areas announced include: society and nature-guided innovation, striving for the lowest residues in crops and the environment and investing where it matters most to farmers and nature.
This work – and the collaboration with TNC – will build on Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan, which has six commitments to be achieved by 2020 in areas where improvement is essential to secure the future of agriculture and the planet’s ecosystems.