Cargill Inc., the largest privately held corporation in the US, announced that it is working with Nestle Purina and The Nature Conservancy on a three-year water project to improve the sustainability of the beef supply chain. The project partners hope that the initiative will reduce the impact of row crop irrigation in Nebraska and will also provide “a scalable irrigation solution for farmers across the US.” Farmers in Nebraska participating in the project are expected to conserve up to 2.4 billion gallons of irrigation water over three years.
Smart-weather sensor technology will be used in crop fields by the farmers who grow feed for cattle, enabling them to make more informed irrigation decisions. Internet of Things (IoT) technology on sprinklers will be connected to a smart phone app. The project uses Field to Market’s FieldPrint Platform to track progress
The partners are also working with Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, a group of companies and conservation organizations focused on boosting farmer-led programs in water conservation, water quality, and soil health in key agricultural states. By engaging the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, the organizations will be able to share best practices from the Nebraska project with farmers in other regions.
More than 50% of water used in US beef production is dedicated to irrigating the row crops that become feed for cattle. By using new irrigation technology, farmers, can greatly reduce the amount of water needed for row crop irrigation and improve the environmental impact of the beef supply chain, the companies say.
This project builds upon the success of a 2014 pilot in Western Nebraska, which studied irrigation patterns and examined the impact on watersheds.