General Mills ups the ante on its regenerative agriculture push

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

General Mills is committed to improving soil health and water quality, while helping farmers. Pic: GettyImages/fotojog
General Mills is committed to improving soil health and water quality, while helping farmers. Pic: GettyImages/fotojog

Related tags: General mills, regenerative agriculture, Wheat, Carbon emissions, Environment, Kernza

The food giant has launched a regenerative pilot programme with Kansas wheat farmers situated in the Cheney Reservoir, which will ultimately improve the overall water quality provided to more than 400,000 Wichita residents.

The move is part of General Mills’ commitment to advance regenerative agriculture practices to one million across of US farmland by 2030.​ It also builds on the company’s pledge to reduce its absolute GHG emissions by 28% across its full value chain by 2025.

The three-year pilot comprises two dozen winter wheat growers in and around the 650,000 acre watershed, where more than 99% of the land is used for agricultural purposes.

Win-win

“This pilot is an important step in our commitment to advance regenerative practices on one million acres of farmland by 2030, but more so, supports our belief that these practices can have long-term positive impact on farmer profitability, soil health, water quality, and biodiversity,”​ said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer at General Mills.

“We’re energised to be working alongside committed organisations like the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Understanding Ag to help us embark on this important work.”

The network of participating farmers – all of whom are aligning their practices with a regenerative mindset – are encouraged to continue their education through the Soil Health Academy, and will have access to farmer-focused field days and a private social media group to exchange ideas.

“We believe regenerative agriculture can improve the quality of this vital water source and if we are successful, it’s win-win-win, for farmers, communities and the environment,” ​added Leo Henning, deputy secretary of the Division of Environment, Kansas Department of Health & Environment.

Enhancing natural resources

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic method of farming that protects and intentionally enhances natural resources, such as pulling carbon from the air and storing it in the soil.

The practice also increases water infiltration and reduces soil erosion, ensuring that more nutrients stay in the field to be absorbed by plants, rather than be washed or blown away.

It has also been found to have a positive impact the quality of nearby lakes, rivers and streams.

In March 2019, General Mills launched a three-year regenerative oat pilot, consisting of 45 farmers across more than 50,000 acres of farmland in North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The Minneapolis-based company has also put its might behind Kernza​ – an organic perennial grain domesticated from wild wheatgrass – that helps the environment by sequestering carbon in the soil through its deep root system and requiring fewer chemical inputs.

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