DENVER — Ardent Mills LLC on June 22 announced it is launching a major expansion of its regenerative agriculture program. Partnering with Nutrien Ag Solutions, Ardent Mills is targeting the enrollment of 250,000 acres of spring wheat and winter wheat cropland into the program by the end of 2022.
Phoenix Dugger, corporate social responsibility manager at Ardent Mills, said the company sees its supply chain as a major area of opportunity for increased sustainability.
“Ardent Mills’ regenerative ag program aims to improve farm profitability and productivity and create insights as to how these practices affect the crop itself,” he said. “We’re excited to continue to grow this program and learn from farmers who are the ultimate stewards of the land.”
Increased organic content in soil, improved nutrient efficiency and water infiltration are among the principal objectives of the program. In addition to measuring key outcomes, the program provides side-by-side quality comparisons to understand the impact of regenerative agriculture on wheat quality.
For several years, Ardent Mills has operated a regenerative agriculture program as part of Field to Market, an alliance of organizations and companies spanning the entire food chain from agribusinesses to food and restaurant companies. The Ardent Mills program currently operates across 12 projects in nine geographies in the United States and Canada, including Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Saskatchewan.
Mr. Dugger said the project in Idaho has resulted in the majority of participating growers utilizing reduced or no-till systems and what’s known as “4R nutrient management” (right source, right rate, right time and right place). Both help ensure responsible soil management while also resulting in higher yields than regional benchmarks.
Engaging Nutrien Ag Solutions, a division of Nutrien Ltd. – the world’s largest crop inputs company, will allow Ardent Mills to accelerate the program’s expansion, said Shrene White, general manager, The Annex by Ardent Mills. Nutrien currently has relationships with 500,000 growers.
“As our partner, they will be our boots on the ground,” Ms. White said. “They will be working with the farmers, setting baselines, setting the metrics and evaluating what’s happening on the farm.”
Mr. Dugger added, “They will work with growers to determine which of the regenerative agricultural practices will work best on each farm.”
The program also gives Ardent Mills an opportunity to partner with bakers looking to respond to rising consumer interest in sustainability.
“Whether bakers or other consumer packaged foods companies, everyone is trying to connect with and meet the needs of the consumer, more and more of whom are making decisions based on better for personal health and better for the environment,” she said. “Over 54% of consumer-packaged foods growth was in products with some kind of sustainability trend.”
Ms. White said bakers may reach out to their Ardent Mills sales representatives to explore ways to communicate with consumers about partnering with Ardent Mills to support growers in specific regions using regenerative practices.