In an effort to address the volume of nutrient and sediment flowing into the Mississippi River System and the Gulf of Mexico from adjacent farmlands, Monsanto partnered with The Nature Conservancy, the Iowa Soybean Association, Delta Wildlife and National Audubon Society in a three-year pilot project.
The project brought new tools and disciplines to help farmers along the Mississippi River efficiently produce higher-yielding crops for food, fiber and fuel in ways that further preserve water quality and support diverse and abundant wildlife populations.
The Nature Conservancy conducted a conservation project in four watersheds in the Upper Mississippi River basin. Monsanto worked with local partners—including farmers in those watersheds—to implement and study conservation techniques that best lower nutrient and sediment concentrations by reducing runoff from agricultural landscapes.
Meanwhile, the Iowa Soybean Association researched and paired micro-watersheds in the Boone and Raccoon Rivers. The association coordinated conservation outreach in those watersheds, including monitoring, measurement and evaluation of on-farm resources and environmental outcomes.
Delta Wildlife installed Best Management Practices (BMPs) on approximately 1,000 sites on working farms in part of the Lower Mississippi Valley, affecting 51,572 acres (20,870 hectares).
Designed to reduce off-site movement of nutrients and sediments, the BMPs stop an estimated 9,203 tons of sediment per year, 10,080 pounds of phosphorus per year, and 20,160 pounds of nitrogen per year. These practices provide additional environmental benefits, including improved fish and wildlife habitat and water conservation.
Audubon’s work focused on raising awareness of how people can be good stewards of nature in their own backyards, promoting individual actions to enhance water quality and habitat for birds and other wildlife.
In support of the projects of all of the partners, Monsanto committed more than US$5 million. It also worked with all four partners to share data generated from the projects with its farmer customers and to encourage on-farm adoption of management practices that contribute to water quality.
Data collected from all projects has been reported annually and is expected to generate novel approaches which can be implemented broadly across rural landscapes. The findings from all projects have been shared with farmers to help them adapt and refine practices that preserve water quality and improve wildlife habitat.
This article is excerpted from Monsanto’s 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report. To see the full report, please visit Monsanto.com.