Food company Country Crock and No-till on the Plains, an agriculture educational non-profit, have partnered on a three-year program to support farmers with soil health education and cost-share to plant cover crops to improve soil health on fields. The initial collaboration will support farmers in the Kansas-area, where Country Crock is made, to cover 13,000 acres in the first year alone.
Cover crops are planted in periods between cash crops to protect the soil during traditional fallow periods. These crops are a valuable resource in regenerative farming practices — they help to prevent soil erosion, increase water infiltration, suppress weeds, break pest cycles, provide nutrients, and can improve farm profitability. When combined with minimal soil disturbance, cover crops also retain carbon in the soil, which benefits the environment by helping to limit carbon release into the atmosphere.
“We know practices like planting cover crops benefit our soil, farms, farmers, and environment,” said Steve Swaffar, Executive Director, No-till on the Plains. “Cover crops are one piece of a systems approach to agriculture that promotes soil health, empowering farms to produce crops with fewer agriculture chemicals, use less water, decrease erosion on the land and protect our environment.”
The program will enroll acreages of cover crops in eastern Kansas and western Missouri on soybean fields that have not been previously planted with a cover crop. Participating farmers will be reimbursed $10 per acre for the cost of the cover crop seed.
No-till on the Plains will administer this new program. The organization will recruit and enroll eligible farmers, offer cover crop education, and technical assistance; manage the financing to defray seed costs; and monitor and report on environmental outcomes of the participating farms using a specialized calculator to monitor certain sustainability indicators. The first year of the program will set the baseline for measuring program outcomes, including future reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The partnership between Country Crock and No-till on the Plains demonstrates Upfield’s commitment to creating more sustainable business practices in support of its mission to make plant-based foods that are better for consumers and the planet.
Farmer information sessions for the cover crop program will start in the summer of 2020, with program recruitment and enrollment targeted for September 2020.