Wal-Mart and General Mills Join to Optimize Sustainable Agriculture

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The global population is expected to grow up to 7.5 billion people over the next six years. Food security is likely to be one of the most important issues that the world will face in the next few decades. Sustainable agricultural techniques are the way forward that can improve productivity of the farms, while conserving natural resources and reducing the environmental impact.

Wal-Mart is stepping up its sustainable initiatives by keenly engaging with its supply chains, particularly in the area of food production and distribution. Wal-Mart has joined with General Mills to drive its sustainable efforts further with innovative programs such as the Field to Market (FTM) initiative. Through the FTM program, both Wal-Mart and General Mills are working with farmers to find ways to boost crop yield by employing nitrogen optimization technologies.

Their goal is to double the reach of FTM so as to cover 2.5 million acres of farmland by 2015. In a recent meeting with farmers in Idaho, the two partners launched an innovation challenge deploying three different types of technology. The technologies chosen through this challenge will help farmers optimize the use of nitrogen, and achieve the highest crop yield at the lowest cost, while reducing the environmental impact at the same time.

The technologies include a field print calculator that will help farmers track information specific to their farm to increase their productivity while conserving land use, irrigation water use and the use of energy. Fertigation is another technology that helps prevent the loss of nitrogen when fertilizer is applied to the top soil. Aerial imaging technology will help farmers target areas of their fields that require herbicide or fertilization treatment, thus conserving their use and preventing unnecessary environmental damage.

Wal-Mart and General Mills are expected to announce the results of the FTM innovation challenge around the end of this year, when the technology toolkit may be built upon further. The companies announced their agreement to work as partners on this initiative earlier this year when Wal-Mart showcased its first ever Sustainable Products Expo in Arkansas.

Source: edie

Image Credit: Flickr via Frederick Rivollier