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Photograph by Joe Mac Hudspeth, Jr. · www.southernfocus.com

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Monsanto Mississippi River Partnership Project

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Monsanto is partnering with multiple agricultural and conservation groups that are working with farmers to help reduce runoff from the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Nature Conservancy, the Iowa Soybean Association and Delta Wildlife are all working collaboratively with farmers to remove nutrients and sediment from agricultural runoff in the Mississippi River Basin. The National Audubon Society is working with homeowners and others to implement measures which can improve wildlife habitat and the quality of water entering the Mississippi River. The new initiative by Monsanto will advance their work and help determine the effectiveness of various conservation measures on improving wildlife habitat and water quality.

“The Mississippi River is an ecological treasure and an economic powerhouse,” said Michael Reuter, who oversees The Nature Conservancy’s Great Rivers Partnership, which was created to help advance conservation of the world’s major river systems including the Mississippi.  “This new effort by Monsanto will help show how we can make farming and conservation in the Mississippi River Basin more compatible so that nature and people alike benefit from improved water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat.”

“We’re proud to work on this bold conservation initiative which we believe offers a sustainable vision for agricultural landscapes wherein farmers can support our world’s growing needs for food, fiber and fuel in ways that not only preserve water quality, but also supports diverse and abundant wildlife populations,” said Jerry Steiner, executive vice president at Monsanto. “We believe this initiative can serve as an important stepping stone toward the goal of preserving natural resources and wildlife in the Mississippi River Basin for future generations.”

“Farmers are emerging in key leadership roles through their investments, and by participating in the planning and implementation of practices that perform environmentally. It’s our goal to support them and help them make meaningful progress,” said Roger Wolf is Director of Environmental Programs at the Iowa Soybean Association. “Our goal is to use science — research and data — to systematically develop and implement a suite of management techniques that help production agriculture measurably improve stewardship while maintaining or increasing profitability.”

“Delta Wildlife is pleased to join forces with Monsanto, The Nature Conservancy, and the Iowa Soybean Association to implement a large-scale project that will improve water quality in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico,” stated Bobby Carson, Chairman of the Delta Wildlife Board of Directors. “While significant environmental benefits will certainly accrue from this project, it will also nurture a more sustainable and profitable future for agriculture.”

Audubon is pleased to be part of this effort to foster a sustainable Mississippi River watershed for people and wildlife,” said Roger Still, Vice President of Audubon’s Mississippi River Initiative.  “We are committed to engaging individuals to take action in their own lives to help address the water quality and habitat issues in the watershed. This effort compliments our broader Mississippi River Initiative.”

Partner Roles:
  • The Nature Conservancy will conduct a three-year conservation pilot in four watersheds in the Upper Mississippi River basin that include the Root River in southeastern Minnesota, the Pecatonica River in southern Wisconsin, the Boone River in northern Iowa and the Mackinaw River in central Illinois. The Conservancy will work with local partners, including farmers, in those watersheds to implement and study conservation techniques that best reduce runoff and lower nutrient and sediment concentrations in water that leaves agricultural landscapes.  Through this project, the Conservancy will seek to determine which tools work best in a larger, sub-watershed system and will then communicate findings to crop producers to guide their farm stewardship decisions.
  • The Iowa Soybean Association will conduct research on paired, micro watersheds in two areas: the Boone and Raccoon Rivers. The group will also coordinate conservation outreach in those watersheds which includes monitoring, measurement and evaluation of on-farm resources and environmental outcomes.
  • Delta Wildlife will install Best Management Practices (BMPs) on approximately 1,000 sites on working farms in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta region of the Lower Mississippi Valley.  BMPs will be designed to reduce off-site movement of nutrients and sediments while providing secondary environmental benefits in the form of improved fish and wildlife habitat and water conservation. The project will include a monitoring and assessment component that will thoroughly document accrued environmental benefits.
  • Monsanto will commit more than $5 million to support all of the projects. Monsanto will also work actively with all the four groups to share data generated form all projects with its farmer customers. The company will also encourage on-farm adoption of management practices that contribute to water quality.
A New Vision for Agricultural Landscapes

This bold conservation initiative offers a new vision for the Mississippi River and agriculture landscapes by which farmers can efficiently produce higher-yielding crops for food, fiber and fuel in ways that further preserve water quality as well as support diverse and abundant wildlife populations.

Over the years, crop producers have implemented cultural practices that reduce erosion, runoff and sedimentation into our nation’s rivers and streams. These common on-farm stewardship practices include conservation tillage, no-till, filter strips and water control structures. Improved placement of fertilizers and precision application of fertilizers and agri-chemicals are additional, market-driven best management practices that contribute to improved water quality in agricultural ecosystems. Additionally, on-farm tools available to farmers today, such as, herbicide-tolerant crops are supporting the conversion of farmland to no-till practices which greatly reduces erosion and the emission of greenhouse gas into our environment.

In the future, crop producers are expected to have additional on-farm tools which can enhance their environmental stewardship efforts. Agricultural technology providers, such as Monsanto, are working to develop nitrogen use efficiency technologies and crop products that yield more on each acre of land. Earlier this year, the company announced its commitment to develop, by 2030, seeds that can double crop yields and reduce by one-third the amount of key resources, e.g., nitrogen and water, required to grow crops.

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