Consumers are driving the marketplace and requiring more companies to get on board with encouraging environmentally-conscious practices from the growers who provide the raw commodities to make their products. Using cover crops, building soil health and adhering to animal welfare standards are just some examples.
Danone North America is one of the many consumer food product companies that is expanding their regenerative farming program. A 3-year, multi-million-dollar soil health research program has been part of the regenerative farming program, including 82,000 acres across the U.S. and Canada, where 28,000 of those acres are organic.
Out of the grower participants, 64% grow cover crops, compared to the national average of 5%. Reduced or no-till management practices are used by 77% of program participants, compared to the national average of 33%.
Grower participants initiated more crop diversity in their operations, doubling the number of cover crop and cash crop species to up to 32, including grasses, legumes and brassicas.
Soil water-holding capacity through improved soil health management was also increased on those 82,000 acres. The soil health program has reduced more than 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and sequestered more than 20,000 tons of carbon through regenerative soil health practices.
Thanks to reduced nutrient application, participating growers lowered their input costs.
The soil health program is slated to continue for another 2 years. It will be very intriguing to see the difference the program has made for grower participants in the years ahead. Hopefully, more dairy farms will see the value of utilizing regenerative ag and sustainability practices.