Data Can Benefit the Entire Value Chain
“Syngenta plays a vital role in the food chain to safely feed the world and take care of our planet,” says Liz Hunt, Sustainable Solutions lead at Syngenta. “We’re making sure there are enough resources for everybody to have the food and nutrition they need, while being good stewards of the land.”
To address consumers’ concerns and ensure long-term viability for U.S. agriculture, the responsibility can’t fall entirely on one segment of the value chain. Companies and growers must work together to meet the challenges and demonstrate results of sustainable agriculture.
Believing that businesses must play a greater role in helping growers farm more sustainably, Syngenta has taken on leadership roles in several influential organizations dedicated to improving sustainability practices across the entire agricultural supply chain. These partnerships include long-term commitments with organizations, such as The Sustainability Consortium, The Nature Conservancy and Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.
“Syngenta is very active in a number of organizations that are determining the right metrics and the right ways to measure sustainability on farms,” Hunt says. “We’re keeping the farming community, whether that’s growers or ag retailers, at the center of the discussion to make sure it’s working for everyone.”
Syngenta also works directly with consumer-facing, downstream businesses, like General Mills, to help deliver key insights to growers. With the help of Syngenta, growers can measure and better understand changes in multiple environmental indicators for water, soil, energy and greenhouse gas emissions, so they optimize crop inputs for production. These metrics then address the desire of consumer companies to reduce their environmental footprint, demonstrate resource efficiency and advance progress against sustainable sourcing commitments.
“These collaborations not only enable the food and beverage companies to satisfy the consumer requests for transparency, but they are also helping growers make their crops more marketable and sustain their farming businesses for generations to come.”
“Our partnership with Syngenta Sustainable Solutions is longstanding,” says Kevin O’Donnell, global director for Sourcing & Operations Sustainability at General Mills. “Syngenta was our original connected data partner to help us better leverage Field to Market (FTM) calculator metrics, help growers with more efficient entry of those metrics, and provide value back to them, which really brings our grower engagement to life. Syngenta also developed the algorithms that allowed us to measure related indicators in our sugarbeets supply chain years before these were formally built into the FTM calculator.”
A common phrase used across the agriculture industry is, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” To truly drive improvements and provide evidence of efficiency through metrics, proper data collection from growers’ fields becomes even more necessary.
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“Syngenta is an ideal partner to collect fact-based, scientifically valid data around what’s happening in production,” says Bradford Warner, vice president of marketing for Customer Engagement and Sustainability at Agspring, which is headquartered in Leawood, Kansas, but serves customers nationwide. “It also gives the producer better grounding at the nexus between increasing profitability and reducing environmental impact.”
By using record-keeping software like Land.db®, the exclusive cloud-based technology from Syngenta, growers are able to maximize the data they’re already recording and turn it into insights for sustainable agriculture. Growers can then provide the data and measurements the rest of the value chain is requesting.
“Technology like Land.db gives growers an opportunity to leverage data and insights in order to assess operational efficiency across the whole farm,” says Jay Watson, manager of Sustainability Engagement at General Mills.
Impact on Growers
With sound measurements and cross-industry connections, growers are able to adapt to the sustainability demands of consumers, consumer-facing companies and modern agriculture, while also improving their on-farm efficiencies.
“These collaborations not only enable the food and beverage companies to satisfy the consumer requests for transparency, but they are also helping growers make their crops more marketable and sustain their farming businesses for generations to come,” Hunt says.
Nathan Garner, a farmer in Declo, Idaho, saw firsthand the benefits of making his operation more sustainable. In 2015, Garner began using Land.db, and, over the last five years, was able to cut overall equipment usage by 30% to 40%, while also increasing his yields across the board by 10%.
“We’re using a lot less water. We’re using a lot less electricity. It’s almost a snowball effect,” Garner says. “You focus on one thing, and you cut expenses on everything else. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to be more sustainable.”