On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Tina May, Senior Director of Sustainability at Land O’Lakes, and Dan Sonke, Director of Sustainable Agriculture at Campbell Soup Company, discuss how farmers are leveraging their new agriculture technology—the TruTerra Insights Engine—to quantify their impacts on climate while maximizing their profits.
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The TruTerra Insights Engine (TTIE) is one of the tools Land O’Lakes uses as part of their SUSTAIN initiative—a network that connects farmers, retailers, and food companies. “TTIE measures the impact of farming practices on climate change to advance soil health, water quality, and climate-smart agricultural practices,” says May. “There are many tech tools out there that help farmers of all sizes…and what the TTIE was built to do was to complement those already existing agtech tools and really help a farmer track, understand, and provide insights into how those crops were grown. It then tracks the climate impacts in real-time, and projects and quantifies those climate impacts into dollars and cents calculations.”
“The best part of this really is arming the farmers with the information they need to do their best work,” says May.
Campbell Soup Company uses TTIE to inform the company’s sustainability strategies, offering insights into how the company can improve outcomes on the farms that grow their ingredients. “For Campbell’s soup, we look at the landscape of sustainability and challenges related to enforcing sustainable agriculture,” says Sonke. “TTIE has already told us what is going on in a positive way, but it also shows us opportunities to do better with those farmers.”
Not only has Campbell Soup Company’s farming operations helped improved using TTIE’s findings, the company has also strengthened relationships with farmers who grow wheat, a commodity crop used in its snacks division. While Campbell Soup Company has had long-working relationships with tomato farmers, similar relationships with wheat farmers were never established. It wasn’t until Sonke began using TTIE that Campbell’s relationship with wheat farmers burgeoned.
“Wheat came to our attention through a key customer who approached us [and said] that their own scoping and working with environmental organizations had identified commodity crops as a concern related to fertilizer and the impact on watersheds and greenhouse gases.” With TTIE, Sonke has received valuable sustainability insights applicable to the company’s farming strategies and has cultivated relationships among new farmers. Recognizing its positive impact on Campbell Soup Company, Sonke encourages all farmers to utilize agriculture technology, advocating for its wider implementation within the agriculture sector.
“We talk about SUSTAIN a lot and encourage companies to get involved, but the principles behind SUSTAIN are so important,” Dan states. “We’re equipping farmers with the tools that they can use to make economic decisions on their farms, and that’s the theme I promote every chance I get to stakeholders willing to listen. We can’t make sustainability advances just by asking the growers to give our company information. That doesn’t change anything. They need the tools that will help them make even better decisions.”