Corn growers set sustainability goals for next decade
The National Corn Growers Association is committing to national efficiency goals by 2030 to enhance sustainable corn production.
President and Ohio farmer John Linder tells Brownfield it will take a multitude of practices to fit regional differences and the program will evolve to support environmental quality and economic viability. “We did a great deal of research with the Soil Health Partnership to look at that data set to say what kind of practices really turn and burn when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, soil quality, and carbon sequestration.”
Nebraska corn grower Deb Gangwish farms 100 percent irrigated ground from the Ogallala Aquifer and says goals to increase irrigation water use and energy efficiency are key to their family’s success and the health of the region. “We know if there’s water, there’s a chance for life and to preserve the resources that we have is incredibly important,” she says.
Northwest Central Ohio farmer Patty Mann says advances in seed technology, precision agriculture, variable rate applications, and fertilizer use are just some of the ways farmers are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be more efficient with resources. “One exciting advancement that I’m really pumped about on our farm that we’ve done just this year, as we plant the seed, we’re adding nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, a fungicide, and some biologicals, all at the same time in a single pass,” she explains.
The organization’s five sustainability goals are based on metrics in the industry’s first Corn Sustainability Report which Michigan Corn Growers Association research manager Kristin Poley tells Brownfield uses data collected on practices between 1980 and 2015 through the Field to Market Program. “Corn farmers have been good stewards of the land for decades and so these practices aren’t necessarily new, but it’s exciting to be able to put a target, a number, on these practices,” she says.
The pillars in the sustainability report over that timeframe find corn farmers have reduced soil loss by nearly 60 percent, improved irrigation efficiency by 46 percent, decreased land needed for production and increased energy efficiency by 41 percent each, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent. They will serve as a benchmark over the next decade to reach further commitments within those areas.