Monsanto has been a part of the Soil Health Partnership since its inception. Kevin Coffman, Market Development Lead in the Ag Sustainability Strategy division of Monsanto, elaborated on the plans of the Partnership with AgWired’s Chuck Zimmerman during the 2nd Soil Health Summit held in Indianapolis this week.
Kevin Coffman, a member of the steering committee for the Soil Health Partnership, said the conversation first began 3-4 years ago. The Soil Health Partnership came about as part of the sustainability conversation, but one of the big goals was to drive profitability for growers for many decades to come while becoming more sustainable and improving soil quality.
“We started this out with the idea of going 5 years, but I’m sure this will go a lot longer than 5 years. The outcome that matters is what works on a growers farm. We can talk about trying to have a better sustainability footprint, but if we also don’t improve the economic profitability of a farm, we really haven’t moved the needle much.” explained Coffman.
There have been a lot of conversations in recent years around topics like soil quality, water quality, and sustainability. Those involved in the launch of the Soil Health Partnership were trying to figure out how to get the ag groups having these conversations coalesced around a single idea that could actually drive decisions on the farm.
“One of the things that’s really intriguing around this idea of soil health is ‘what is it’. What are the pieces that drive soil health? Within Monsanto we’ve got a lot of people researching hybrids, but we haven’t really sat around thinking ‘how do I improve soil?'” Coffman continued, “That’s the interesting thing. If you think about agronomic practices, with cover crops being a part of it, tillage practices, reduced tillage, different nutrient management strategies, can you improve the health of soil over time, thereby driving yields longer term? It sounds like a perfect fit for us to be involved in.”
When asked about the best case outcome of the five year initiative, Kevin again tied in the importance of finding the economic value for growers. “The best outcome is the ability to say ‘these practices drive these kinds of outcomes’ as far as profitability and environmental outcomes, so we have a more informed decisions of what will work and what won’t work.”
Learn more in this interview: Interview with Kevin Coffman, Monsanto