HOLTON, Kan. — “It can’t be done here.”
It’s a refrain regenerative agriculture consultant Shane New has heard from farmers more often than he cares to recall. But a new, three-year, regenerative farming project, funded by General Mills and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, seeks to debunk the “It can’t be done here” myth and to measurably demonstrate a wide range of on- and off-farm regenerative agriculture benefits.
New, a Holton, Kansas farmer and partner in Understanding Ag, LLC. (UA), said that he and his company’s regenerative agriculture consultants will be assisting 24 farmers who are located within a 70-mile radius of Hutchinson, Kansas, to help them successfully integrate key regenerative farming practices into their respective operations. The project encompasses approximately 3800 acres.
According to New, the project has several important goals including increasing farm profitability through lower input costs and improved soil function. “Making farms more profitable and resilient is achieved by restoring soil ecosystem function,” he said. “Those benefits will be realized through the integration of key regenerative agriculture practices like no-till, crop rotation and diversification, integrating cover crops and, where appropriate, integrating livestock,” he said.
For its part, New said, project partner General Mill seeks to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality grains from its growers. “Soil-health improving, regenerative agricultural practices have been shown to increase nutrient density and grain quality,” he said. “And improving soil function creates soils that are more resilient to weather extremes like drought and floods—which ensures consistent production over time.”
New said that because regenerative agriculture practices are far less dependent on tillage, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is looking to realize measurable improvements in water and air quality. “Reducing or eliminating tillage keeps dust out of the air, and chemically bound sediment out of our water,” New said. “All of that translates into a healthier environment and healthier people.”
The three-year project will begin this spring.
“The Kansas Regenerative Wheat Project aligns perfectly with UA’s mission, which focuses on every aspect of agriculture—from soil, plant, animal and human health, to economics and agribusiness,” he said. “We’re delighted to partner with General Mills, KDHE and others to help these Kansas farmers grow healthier soil, food and profits and to demonstrate that yes, it really can be done here.”
–Understanding Ag, LLC