Food Company Optimizing Sustainable Agriculture

Wal-Mart Stepping up Its Sustainable Initiatives by Engaging with Its Supply Chains

General Mills chief sustainability officer Jerry Lynch has revealed how his company is working with Walmart to accelerate innovation in sustainable agriculture down the supply chain.

Both companies are working with farmers through an initiative called Field to Market (FTM) to examine how nitrogen fertiliser optimisation technologies can help boost crop yields whilst conserving natural resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The aim is to double the reach of FTM so it covers 2.5 million acres of farmland by 2015. 

Writing in a blog for Walmart, Lynch said that a meeting took place last week with farmers in Idaho, US, to "kick off an innovation challenge" using three different types of technology. 

"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," he said. 

The technologies include a fieldprint calculator that will enable farmers to track information related to their specific farm. They can then compare how they are doing against average results in their area. 

Another approach is fertigation - a technology that allows the application of nitrogen at the same time irrigation water is applied. According to Lynch, this helps prevent the loss of nitrogen into the air that occurs when fertiliser is applied to the top of the soil by placing the nitrogen right at the roots of the plants, where it is needed. 

Walmart is increasingly looking to engage and collaborate with its suppliers to drive its sustainability commitments forward. In May edie reported that the retail giant had brought together members of its supply chain to help develop a $100m Closed Loop Fund to improve US recycling rates. 

Source: Edie

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