General Mills identifies technologies to benefit farmers, environment

by Eric Schroeder
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MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. has selected Agronomic Technology Corp. and United Suppliers as the winners in its global innovation challenge. The global innovation challenge, part of General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network (G-WIN), was created to build on General Mills’ long-term sustainability commitment and ongoing initiatives to reduce environmental impacts from farming, and increase collaborations with farmers and the supply chain.

Agronomic Technology Corp., based in New York City, submitted a solution called ADAPT-N, a software tool that combines soil and crop models to predict the influence of weather on soil nitrogen balance. The goal of the tool is to help farmers schedule fertilizer applications to meet plant needs without waste, General Mills said.

United Suppliers, based in Ames, Iowa, proposed SUSTAIN, a consulting network that provides customized products and services for farmers using a needs-based system approach. According to General Mills, SUSTAIN provides solutions specific to the region and the crop needs for the farmer through three main pillars: 1) nutrient management, 2) conservation and 3) green fertilizer. 

 Using these tools, farmers will be able to use the right type and amount of fertilizer to maximize profits while improving soil and ecosystem health.

“To achieve sustainable agriculture, we have to connect solutions-based technologies with producers,” said Jerry Hatfield, laboratory director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “The process undertaken by General Mills and Wal-Mart to identify potential technologies that promote a more sustainable system is refreshing and shows the ongoing commitment to producers by industry leaders.”

In April, General Mills worked with the Wal-Mart Foundation to fund field implementation of the technologies to further demonstrate the value and increase the accessibility to farmers.

“This challenge was an optimal example of how solutions providers and food producers can work together to benefit farmers and ultimately, the environment,” said Mike Helser, Ph.D. and leader of the G-WIN program. “We are gratified at the results this challenge delivered, and we’ll continue to look for opportunities to use our capabilities to promote best practices in sustainable agriculture.”

Agronomic Technology Corp. and United Suppliers will present their technologies directly to farmers at grower workshops hosted by General Mills in early 2015.
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