Ag retailers in the Great Lakes are partnering with diverse organizations to improve profitability and overall supply chain sustainability. "Ag retailers who encourage their customers to purchase greener products and services not only help farmers reduce input costs and increase their bottom line, but also contribute to enhanced water quality and overall sustainability,” says Dr. Thomas Green, president of the IPM Institute. “Approaching resource management from every possible angle is key to success of water quality and sustainability initiatives.”

For example, Field to Market is a diverse alliance of grower organizations, agribusinesses, retailers, conservation groups, universities and federal partners working together to enhance sustainability across the supply chain. Field to Market is committed to defining and measuring the impacts of better practices through tools such as the Fieldprint Calculator. “The Calculator allows farmers to visualize the impacts of their management practices across six sustainability metrics,” says Fred Luckey, Field to Market chairman. “Farmers can also compare themselves to state, local and national averages.”

The Calculator has proven useful in a broad range of applications, including recent collaborations with Field to Market members to understand the farm-level opportunities for economic and environmental improvements in breakfast cereals and mayonnaise. “In order to find solutions, you first have to define, measure, and benchmark the current practices and their outcomes in the field,” says Luckey. “We help organizations understand sustainability outcomes in their supply chains, which helps them develop practices with the goal of continuous improvement.”

On December 12 at the Toledo Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, Luckey and nine other presenters will be on hand to share what they have learned with other ag retailers. Attendance is free. According to Heath Ellison, agriculture and natural resources manager with the Iowa Soybean Association and a presenter at the conference, “Ag retailers are in unique position to provide additional value to their existing farmer customer base with regard to nutrient management and water quality. Blending commerce with stewardship is good for business.” 

Other presenters include Logan Haake, precision farming manager for Deshler Farmers Elevator Company and Legacy Farmers Cooperative & CCA, Carrie Vollmer-Sanders, Western Lake Erie Basin project office director for The Nature Conservancy, and Dr. Thomas Bruulsema, Northeast regional director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute.

Certified Crop Advisors have the opportunity to earn five nutrient management CEUs. Space is limited. Register by contacting Jane Petzoldt at 608 232-1410 or jpetzoldt@ipminstitute.org, or visit http://www.ipminstitute.org/events.htm to download a registration form.

The event is sponsored by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the Partnership for Ag Resource Management, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association, and the International Plant Nutrition Institute. Hosted by the IPM Institute of North America, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to developing market-based solutions to environmental challenges since 1998.