USA – The privately-owned corporation Cargill has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and Nestlé Purina to launch a three-year sustainability programme to reduce water waste in the beef supply chain.

The project which claims to save up to 2.4 billion gallons of water over three years will see farmers install weather sensors in crop fields which will help determine how regularly crops need to be irrigated.

It also enables farmers to make more informed irrigation decisions, by installing smart weather sensors in crop fields and using Internet of Things (IoT) technology on sprinklers connected to a smart phone app.

Cargill said with up to 50% of water being used in US beef production is used to irrigate raw crops, utilising the tools reduces the amount of water needed for row crop irrigation.

“By using smart weather sensor technology in row crop irrigation, this program could help save 2.4 billion gallons of irrigation water over three years, which is equivalent to roughly 7,200 households over that time period.

“The reduction of pumping also means less energy used and less labour expense for farmers,” said Hannah Birge, water and agriculture program manager at The Nature Conservancy.

Field to Market’s FieldPrint Platform will enable farmers track the progress of the project, and the project could be introduced to other states in the near future through collaboration with the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative.

Cargill is addressing the need to conserve water, improve water quality and promote access to clean water through minimal use in agriculture, risk assessment and improved operational efficiency.

“Farmers are continually innovating to bring food to the table more sustainably.

“By working with them, and alongside The Nature Conservancy and Nestlé Purina, we’re scaling these solutions around water conservation to ensure an even more sustainable future for beef supply chains,” said Courtney Hall, Cargill technical sustainability manager.