February 1 marked the launch of Scoular’s regenerative agriculture pilot. The initiative merges technology with traditional farming practices to determine how these practices can impact the environment.
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
Beth Stebbins, director of sustainability at Scoular, described regenerative agriculture as practices that focus on soil health, which in turn can lower CO2 emissions.
“These practices can promote biodiversity by introducing different species in the soil and attracting different wildlife,” she said.
Regenerative farming is not the same as organic farming since regenerative farming does not follow the same strict requirements.
“Regenerative practices can include things like planting cover crops, integrating livestock, and reducing tillage,” Stebbins said.
Where Tech Meets Tradition
Scoular is teaming up with Regrow Ag, a technology company specializing in helping producers measure, report, and verify (MRV) the impact of their regenerative agricultural practices.
The process starts when participating producers upload their field boundaries and farming information into the custom software Regrow has built. Producers also record what type of regenerative agriculture they’ll be pursuing.
“Regrow’s Agriculture Resilience platform verifies farmer practice adoption by aggregating data from several sources, including farmer reports, farm management systems (FMS), and remote sensing imagery,” said Bill Salas, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Regrow.
Regrow’s DeNitrification DeComposition Soil Carbon (DNDC) model then estimates the environmental impact generated.
“So it can be delivered to a third party for independent review,” Salas said.
Providing Financial Support
To incentivize producers to get started with regenerative practices, Scoular will be providing participating producers with a credit back for each service.
“We recognize that we’re not necessarily covering the cost of each practice, but we’re helping them adopt those practices,” Stebbins said. “In the long term, producers should receive benefits from introducing these practices.
“For instance, if they plant a cover crop they might not need to put as much fertilizer down, or they will get higher yields [from healthier soil].”
Scoular is starting with grain contracts at three facilities: Fremont, Nebraska; Coolidge, Kansas; and Adrian, Missouri.
The first year will be focused on assessing the effectiveness of the program.
“Our goal is to enroll 20,000 acres in the program, and we’re hoping about 40 producers will be involved,” Stebbins said.
She said Scoular is excited to step into a connecter role, providing insight into the process and market for both consumer and producer.
“Downstream customers are looking for commodities that are produced using regional practices and [they] want to know how it’ll help positively affect their climate footprint,” she said.
By measuring the output of the regenerative practices for producers, Scoular will be able to confidently explain to the consumer how their purchase is impacting the environment and economy.