Dec 28, 2020
Danone soil health program expands to include 28K organic acres

Food and beverages powerhouse Danone North America continues to expand its regenerative farming program.

Now completing its third year, the research program has nearly tripled to more than 82,000 acres, which includes 28,000 organic acres, across the U.S. and Canada, according to the news release. It also recently expanded into almond orchards in California’s Central Valley region.

Launched in 2017, the soil health initiative brings together experts and academics to build best-in-class soil health programs to benefit farms and communities, according to the release from the company. Danone North America’s portfolio of brands includes Activia, DanActive, Danimals, Dannon, Good Plants, Horizon Organic, International Delight, Light + Fit, Oikos, Silk, So Delicious Dairy Free, STōK, Two Good, Vega, Wallaby Organic and YoCrunch.

The goal of Danone’s soil health initiative is to improve organic matter in soils leading to increased carbon sequestration and improved yields, reduce chemical use, restore biodiversity, and enhance soil water holding capacity, leading to improved farm economic resilience over the long-term, according to the news release.

Over the next two years, the company aims to collaboratively establish goals with farmer partners, pilot innovative technologies to drive change, launch industry leading tools and programs to encourage greater regenerative management adoption, finance projects to accelerate more impact, and achieve enrollment of 100,000 acres under the regenerative agriculture program.

“We’re now three years into our five-year soil health research program and have established a solid foundation of research and data down to the individual field level. Our farmer partners are very receptive and engaged in our program, and this year we welcomed several new farmer partners to the program with the expansion into almond orchards and increasing our acres with organic dairies,” said Ariel Wildenauer DesmaraisSenior Director of Agricultural Sourcing, Danone North America. The company aims to collaboratively establish goals with farmer partners over the next two years.

One of the farms active in the soil health program over the last three years is VanTilburg Farms in northwestern Ohio, a co-owner of MVP Dairy LLC, according to the press release. Boyd VanTilburg started farming in 1902 with 80 acres, and today his great-grandsons, Matt, Kyle and Luke VanTilburg, are now farming over 4,000 acres of non-GMO crops for MVP Dairy, LLC, all of which are part of the Danone North America soil health program.

“As a family that has been farming for more than 100 years, we are committed to using conservation practices to preserve the land for generations to come,” said Kyle VanTilburg of VanTilburg Farms and MVP Dairy LLC.

“We are fortunate to work directly with Danone North America to continuously assess and improve the soil health of our farm, allowing us to build-in regenerative agriculture practices to drive returns over the long term,” he said in the news release. “We are proud of the progress to-date from this comprehensive program and encourage others to join us and secure both the financial and environmental future of their farms.”

Danone North America was one of a group of food companies who formed a coalition, “One Planet Business for Biodiversity,” in 2019 at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York. Other companies making up the group included Nestle and McCain Foods, a major potato processor.


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