Nestlé Purina PetCare Company committed to donate US$1 million over five years to support The Nature Conservancy’s reThink Soil initiative, a national, collaborative effort to help farmers improve soil health on croplands across the United States.
Widespread adoption of soil health practices could provide economic benefits for US farmers and businesses, as well as significant conservation benefits for generations to come, according to a press release about the donation.
The reThink Soil initiative spans the science, business and policy sectors to advance the widespread adoption of soil health practices — including cover crops, conservation tillage and crop rotation — on at least 50 percent of US croplands by 2025. To accomplish this, the Conservancy is working with the Soil Health Partnership, a data-driven, farmer-led soil health research project, and the Soil Health Institute, a group focused on scientific research and advancement of soil health. Together they are working to enact a 10-point strategic roadmap to achieve meaningful soil health outcomes at an unprecedented rate and scale. Strategies include working to improve soil health measurements and standards, increasing support for soil health practice adoption by absentee landowners, expanding the network of on-farm demonstration sites and advancing public policy solutions.
Nestlé Purina is the first pet care company to support this initiative, and this commitment will also enable other parts of Nestlé’s food business to engage in the work.
Value of soil conservation to the pet food industry
“Soil is the cornerstone of life,” said Larry Clemens, North America agriculture program director for The Nature Conservancy in a press release. “It’s estimated that 95 percent of food comes from soil. Healthy soil practices not only help farmers, but they improve drinking water quality, wildlife habitat, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build up resilience to extreme weather conditions like drought and flooding. Investing in soil health is an investment in the health and well-being of future generations.”
Conservancy scientists estimate that less than 10 percent of soils in the United States are managed optimally today. Furthermore, the increasing demand for food, fuel and fiber production by a growing global population is placing unprecedented stress on the health and viability of soil. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates a 60 percent increase in global food production is required by 2050 to meet the rising demand.
“We understand and appreciate that healthy soil is the foundation for healthy agricultural products that nourish people and pets,” said Jack Scott, head of sustainability at Nestlé Purina PetCare Company. "Soil underlies all of our quality ingredients grown and raised in the U.S., including soy, corn, wheat, rice and meat. We are proud to be a partner in the reThink Soil effort with The Nature Conservancy and its many collaborators.”
Last year, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company’s support enabled the Conservancy to build upon decades of work along the Wabash River in Indiana, a critical tributary of the Mississippi River Basin, to reduce nutrient and sediment flow by installing wetlands and woodlands at key junctures.