Local food

(KMAland) -- Sustainability is front and center in the conversation as the agriculture industry works to increase its production to feed the growing world population. Taylor Purucker (poo-RUCK-er) is the crop nutrition lead for The Mosaic Company. He’s working to educate growers on advancing sustainable production systems with crop nutrition, and says sustainable growing solutions are vital to food production.

“When we think about the three pillars, of course, economics, because these practices in crop production must be profitable for growers to implement sustainable practices; environmental, because we do have to take care of the environment and make sure that we are not degrading any natural resources; and then, the social aspect would just to provide enough food, and there are some other things that go along with that. To add to that, there’s an increasing trend for consumers to want to know that their food is safe, not only for them but also safe for the environment, and I think that’s sparked a lot of discussion around sustainability and even led to agri-food companies announcing sustainability goals and targets in the next five to ten years.”

He says farmers are the foundation for a sustainable food chain because sustainability starts at the farm level. The first step is implementing sustainability practices.

“That begins with understanding some of the crop nutrient needs. And we can do that through the forward stewardship initiatives. I think this is really a key step that as an industry we’ve taken on more sustainable systems. And what the forward nutrient stewardship framework is, it’s an idea that was developed by the former international plant nutritionist that promotes the right placement, the right source, right rate, and the right timing of fertilizer. And this framework or this idea has really served as a fundamental aspect of sustainable food systems by reducing nutrient loss, by increasing nutrient recovery, and more importantly is increasing grower yield and return on investment.”

Purucker says using the right enhanced efficiency fertilizer is a great start to taking care of the environment. Soil is a farmer’s most valuable asset, and it requires care to ensure sustainable and profitable production for the future.

“USDA/NRCS defines soil health as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. When we can optimize the functions of the soil, the biological, the chemical, and the physical of the soil, we often create and lead to healthier soils. These healthier soils are more efficient in terms of crop nutrient use, they create resilient cropping systems, especially when we consider some weather extremes like drought or even heavy precipitation events, and what it ultimately does is lead to sustained productivity and profits.”

The Mosaic Company has joined the sustainability conversation by investing in innovative partnerships, practices, and products to advance what nutrition and soil health can do for growers.

“I think great examples of this are the recent launch and introduction of Susterra Fertilizer, along with other partnerships that we’ve announced, to create a soil health portfolio and provide sustainable solutions for growers with Susterra Fertilizer. It’s a bio-based phosphate fertilizer with sulfur that uses recycled organic matter to deliver nutrients so that we’re helping growers produce more sustainably and improve the long-term health of the soil, not only by feeding the crop but feeding the soil and helping optimize the continued capacity of the soil. Susterra Fertilizer is designated as an enhanced efficiency fertilizer.”

He says by prioritizing healthy soils and plant nutrition, sustainable food production becomes second nature. Again, Taylor Purucker is with The Mosaic Company.

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