Land O'Lakes and Bel Brands expand dairy farming sustainability program

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/RichLegg
© GettyImages/RichLegg

Related tags Bel Brands USA Land O'Lakes Dairy

Land O'Lakes, in a partnership with Bel Brands USA, is expanding its three-year pilot program focused on sustainable farming and animal feed production to five additional farms, ranging in size from 450 to 2,000 cows.

The program's goal is to support the adoption of methods such as cover cropping to improve soil health and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

In addition to expanding the program to five more Land O’Lakes member dairy farms, a non-dairy cooperative that produces dairy cattle feed is signing up to the initiative. “This inclusion of a company at another step in the supply chain aims to further prove the scalability of the program.”

Bel Brands milk supplier, Boadwine Dairy in South Dakota, was the pilot location for the first year of this program, and the teams involved said the initiative has already yielded meaningful results, including a carbon sink of 784 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per acre per year.

Lynn Boadwine, owner of the pilot test farm, commented on the benefits of participation in the scheme:

“This partnership has given me the confidence to adopt new sustainable farming methods, like cover cropping, with some shared support. For example, terminating herbicide unexpectedly more than doubled in price this past year. Not every farmer is in a position to invest in testing and learning, so support from partners like Land O’Lakes and Bel Brands further up the supply chain is critical.”

The initiative has also received third-party acknowledgement of its potential scalability by receiving the Innovation Center for US Dairy outstanding supply chain collaboration award.

Data capture

Land O'Lakes said the program is one of the first designed with input from key stakeholders across the supply chain. It incorporates a traceability and data measurement technology, the company’s Truterra Insights Engine, to capture actionable data about on-farm sustainable agriculture practices and the economic impacts. 

That data platform is designed to benchmark, track and evaluate changes in Nutrient Utilization Efficiency (NUE), soil erosion, soil quality and greenhouse gas emissions over the course of three years. It looks to deliver field-by-field, acre-by -acre performance data covering profitability, sheet and rill erosion, wind erosion, soil quality trend, net GHG, nitrogen use, and an overall sustainability score.

Bel Brands USA and Land O’Lakes have both stressed that sustainability is a business priority. In early 2022, Bel committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout the entire value chain by 25%, between 2017 and 2035. Similarly, Land O’Lakes pledged that all dairy farmer-owners will complete an intensive on-farm sustainability assessment by 2025.

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