On February 18, 2020, the non-profit Soil Health Academy (SHA) announced it has received a $1.65 million grant from General Mills to educate and mentor wheat and oat producers in targeted regions of the U.S. and Canada as they transition from conventional, soil-depleting agricultural practices to regenerative agriculture practices that rebuild both the quantity and quality of topsoil.
To implement the three-year, mentoring, consulting and evaluation components of the project, SHA is partnering with the regenerative agriculture consulting company, Understanding Ag, LLC (UA).
“The grant from General Mills will allow SHA to partner with UA and its cadre of world-class regenerative consultants to deliver critical on-farm consulting and mentoring services to producers involved in the project,” said David Brandt, SHA president. “UA’s consultants will work with these producers to develop three- to five-year regenerative management plans which also incorporate on-farm experimentation and learning.”
The project also includes a major emphasis on documenting and evaluating soil health improvements, crop profitability and biological diversity benefits derived through the regenerative agriculture transition process.
Brandt said the foundation for a successful transition from conventional agriculture systems to regenerative agriculture systems, remains education.
“Knowledge, observation, understanding and problem-solving skills remain the key to the successful application of regenerative agricultural systems,” he said. “SHA, through its regenerative agriculture schools and curriculum, will provide participating farmers with the knowledge and confidence to be successful as they make that transition.”
The new grant represents a continuation of General Mills’ commitment to bring soil back to life through regenerative agriculture practices, which protect and intentionally enhance natural resources, increase biodiversity and maintain farming communities.
“Soil Health Academy and Understanding Ag have been instrumental partners in our efforts to advance this important work,” said Mary Jane Melendez, president of the General Mills Foundation and chief sustainability and social impact officer for the company.
“We know that farmers learn best from other farmers and the experience and knowledge that these renaissance regenerative agriculture experts provide is unprecedented. We’re honored to call them partners,” she concluded.