In April, General Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell joined Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon to announce a commitment to accelerate innovation in sustainable agriculture and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through an initiative called Field to Market (FTM).
The announcement was made in Bentonville, Arkansas, at Walmart’s first-ever Sustainable Product Expo.
General Mills and Walmart pledged to more than double the reach of Field to Market, a nonprofit organization dedicated to working across the agriculture supply chain to address the food demands of the rapidly growing population, while conserving natural resources.
Success in this endeavor would mean that FTM would expand to 2.5 million acres by 2015.
Last week, Walmart and General Mills met with FTM and farmers in Idaho to talk about sustainable agriculture best practices and to kick off an innovation challenge aimed at reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) through nitrogen fertilizer optimization technologies.
The technologies selected through this challenge will help farmers make sure that every pound of nitrogen they apply is used by their crop as effectively as possible, bringing the greatest yield at the lowest cost and reducing the impact on the environment.
So, what are some of the current technologies being used to increase farmers’ productivity and protect the environment for future generations?
Here are three examples:
1. Fieldprint Calculator – This innovative calculator offered by FTM allows farmers to track information related to their specific farm. They are able to compare how they are doing against average results in their area.
The farmers can then identify opportunities to improve their results and increase their productivity in future years while having a positive impact on land use, conservation, soil carbon, irrigation water use, water quality, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. “By visualizing what is happening, it changes the way we do things,” said one of the farmers in Idaho this week.
2. Fertigation – This technology allows the application of nitrogen at the same time irrigation water is applied.
This approach helps prevent the loss of nitrogen into the air that occurs when fertilizer is applied to the top of the soil by placing the nitrogen right at the roots of the plants, where it is needed.
3. Aerial imagery analysis – This technology is helping farmers target specific parts of their fields that require herbicide or fertilization treatment, avoiding the cost and potential environmental damage of spraying an entire field.
We’re excited to build on this toolkit of technologies this winter when we announce the results of our innovation challenge with Field to Market.
Accelerating innovation in sustainable agriculture will continue to be a priority for Walmart and General Mills given the promise it holds for farm communities and the long-term value it provides to society, the environment and business.