Jenny Maloney

Grow On – What Makes Food Sustainable

Sustainability is one of those words that for a long time baffled me. I had seen it thrown around on food labels, mentioned in nice glossy brochures, and talked about in conferences that I attended. Questions still remained about What Makes Food Sustainable?

According to the USDA NIFA, sustainable Ag is defined as:

An integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will over the long-term:

  • Satisfy human food and fiber needs.
  • Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends.
  • Make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls.
  • Sustain the economic viability of farm operations.
  • Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.

Sustainable food, or sustainable Ag is much broader than I had originally anticipated, covering the areas of the environment, economics and society. So, how does a company like Bayer – where I work – contribute to help growers continue to farm sustainably and meet their future needs? We focused on 6 key areas where growers are employing sustainable practices, and then looked at our product portfolio, and how it could complement their current farming practices to sustainably grow the food we eat every day.

Jenny Maloney
Jenny Maloney
Jenny Maloney,
Food Chain Sustainability Manager Bayer Crop Science
concepts for sustainable food
concepts for sustainable food

Bringing these concepts to the field level, I found that examples of sustainable farming are visible in many different crops.

Did you know that growers…

  • Use a process called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to manage pests with minimal environmental impact.
  • Use drip irrigation to target exact water application to a crop, giving the crop exactly what it needs, when it needs it? You can also use crop protection tools and fertilizers through an irrigation system (called chemigation and fertigation) to spoon feed and protect a plant!
  • Help to reduce food waste by limiting pests in the field that can sometimes compete for nutrients and water with the crop being grown. There are also products that keep the fruits and vegetables cleaner, and increasing the amount of time a piece of fruit can keep in your house or in the fridge!
  • That growers continually increase worker safety with tools like the easyFlow closed filling and cleaning system that reduce worker exposure to crop protection products and minimize the risk of unintentional product spills.
grow on logo
grow on logo

It’s really amazing the amount of technology and best practices that are utilized on farms around the world. These farms continuously strengthen their operations and steward the environment to ensure sustainable farming for generations to come.

So, if you haven’t had an opportunity yet, thank (or hug!) a farmer for all that they do, to grow the food that we eat, and simultaneously steward the land that we all share.

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Thriving for Change - Championing Agriculture for a New Generation