Pepsi, Target incentivize crop diversity on US farms to cut fertilizer pollution

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Nutrient pollution from Midwest farms washes into the Gulf of Mexico every spring, creating algae blooms and an oxygen-free dead zone where fish cannot survive. Image: N. Rabalais, LSU/LUMCON

There is a swath of the Gulf of Mexico that’s virtually devoid of life because algae blooms have choked out marine plants and animals; scientists say it is growing and getting worse.

One of the culprits lies to the north, in the massive amounts of fertilizers used on corn and soy farms throughout the Midwest.

Some key players, though, are coming together to change the game …. Farmers, nonprofits, researchers and food conglomerates are trying to find ways to create markets for crops that, if grown in rotation among the corn and soy, can not only reduce fertilizer runoff but also boost soil health ….

Rotating through different crops helps farmers cut down on fertilizer and pesticide use, and diversification is almost universally considered a solid economic strategy. But farmers say they can’t justify doing so, financially, without a place to sell the other crops.

Related article:  Pesticides and Food: It’s not a black or white issue, Part 6: Pesticide residues ― Something to worry about?

Last October, Target announced it was joining the AgWater Challenge, an initiative from nonprofits Ceres and the World Wildlife Fund that encourages better water management practices among the world’s biggest food and beverage companies …. PepsiCo, meanwhile, has started to provide financial support for farmers to grow rotation crops, and is exploring other opportunities for collaboration.

Read full, original article: Diversifying Crops Is Good For The Planet. But Can It Be Good For Farmers’ Wallets?

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