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Thinking about World Water Day

By Maggie Cole, Global Supply Chain Sustainability Lead, Monsanto
Mar 21, 2014 4:20 PM ET

Did you know that a running faucet typically uses three gallons of water per minute? Moreover, did you know that agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s fresh water supply? As we prepare to recognize World Water Day tomorrow, it’s important for Monsanto and its employees to think about all the ways we can be better water stewards at home and in the workplace.

As the Global Supply Chain Sustainability Lead (say that five times fast), I’m charged with helping Monsanto continuously improve its operational footprint. An engineer by trade and a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, I have been trained on process improvement and implementation, so leading sustainability improvement efforts at Monsanto is a natural fit for me.

Water is particularly critical for Monsanto and our famer customers as it is the very resource that grows our crops. In fact, water touches every piece of our business, so it’s crucial that we commit ourselves to using water more efficiently.

While I help lead our company efforts that look at ways we can improve the efficiency of our environmental resource utilization, which includes water, Monsanto has a long history of efforts surrounding water initiatives – inside and outside our facilities. In fact, we established the Water Utilization Learning Center in Gothenburg, Nebraska, to help farmers achieve their yield and productivity goals with an emphasis on water utilization. The Center is focused on cutting-edge research into the relationships between water, plants, agronomics and the environment. It’s a very cool facility that is visited by more than 4,000 people each year. If you find yourself in Nebraska, I highly encourage you to stop by for a tour.

We take much of what we learn at the Water Utilization Center and apply it to the innovative solutions designed to reduce the amount of water needed to grow crops.  There’s actually an entire team dedicated to developing technology-based solutions and drought-tolerant products. Global water challenges, however, cannot be solved by any single entity, so we often partner with non-governmental organizations, governments, industry and academics to make a greater impact. Additionally, the Mississippi River Watershed Partnership and Water Efficient Maize for Africa are examples of partnerships that have made a real difference in improving the quality of water and providing solutions to farmers in drought-stricken areas.

That’s just a snapshot of some of Monsanto’s industry-leading water initiatives, but there’s so much more – we’re constantly learning and improving as we continue on our journey.

Whether you’re participating in a World Water Day activity or not, I encourage you to think about your own water use. Check out the EPA’s website that provides tips on improving water conservation in your home.

To learn more about some of our work around water use and agriculture, go to


Billy Brennan