Overcoming crop challenges through Regenerative farming
How McCain is creating better sustainability efforts for growers
Whether it’s climate change, regulatory uncertainty or rising input costs, potato growers across the world continue to face increasing challenges. To combat some of these threats to the potato industry, McCain is partnering with growers to create better sustainability efforts in growing potatoes. By the end of 2030, McCain plans to implement Regenerative agricultural practices across 100% of its potato acreage worldwide.
McCain defines Regenerative agriculture as an “ecosystem-based approach to farming that aims to improve farmer resilience, yield and quality by improving soil health, enhancing biodiversity and reducing the impact of synthetic inputs.”
McCain’s six key principles to Regenerative agriculture:
- Ensure farm resilience
- Armour soils, preferably with living plants
- Enhance crop and ecosystem diversity
- Minimize soil disturbance
- Reduce agro-chemical impact & optimize water use
- Integrate organic and livestock elements
Austin Poulson, fifth generation farmer in Idaho, knows the responsibility it takes to build healthy soils.
“My goals for (Regenerative agriculture) have always been to maximize the health of the soil in order to maximize return on investment,” Poulson said. “My grandpa would say, ‘If you take care of the dirt, then the dirt can take care of you.’ I believe that. When I look at the farms that I have responsibility for, I want to make sure that I am building healthy soils that can raise healthy crops.”
Through his use of Regenerative agriculture techniques, Poulson has already seen its benefits.
“Inputs are a huge portion of our costs. Over the last few years, with all that has been going on, costs have gone through the roof. Finding (Regenerative agriculture) projects that can augment my ability to raise a good crop have helped me reduce my dependence on inputs. We have also seen savings in water usage, less erosion and overall better biological activities,” Poulson said.
According to Poulson, since his use of Regenerative agriculture techniques, his farm’s water usage is more efficient after raising a cover crop. He also notes that a potato crop with a cover crop versus one without “will show better resilience in the face of high heat or low soil moisture — giving you a better crop in spite of extreme weather conditions,” Poulson said.
Regenerative agriculture has the potential to impact generations of farmers. According to Poulson, it starts with improving soil health.
“We need to always be improving and perfecting our craft,” Poulson said. “I think building soil health and continuing to improve our soils will be a bright part of the future. The impact (Regenerative farming) can have on generations to come could allow this finite resource to continue to benefit the population for years to come. Those in agriculture know that if you mistreat your product or commodity, eventually it stops being financially viable — land is no different.”
To learn more about McCain, visit https://www.mccain.com/sustainability/smart-sustainable-farming/
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