As part of Kellogg's Better Days commitment to support 1 million farmers by the end of 2030, the company is collaborating with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to expand the Saving Tomorrow's Agriculture Resources (S.T.A.R.) initiative in Illinois. Thanks to a grant from Kellogg, 50 additional farmers managing more than 31,000 acres of Illinois farmland used S.T.A.R. to limit erosion, improve water quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their farm since 2019. TNC was instrumental in the program as they provided on the ground support to help farmers adopt climate-smart agriculture practices.
Soil depletion has been challenging for many Illinois farmers as the state's annual rainfall causes vital, nutrient-rich soil to erode into nearby waterways, inhibiting crop production and contributing to organic carbon loss. Thanks in part to Kellogg's support, cover cropping implemented by S.T.A.R. farmers has prevented more than 5,440 tons of CO2e from entering the atmosphere, or the equivalent of removing more than 13 million vehicle miles off of the road.
"We had gullies and water collecting across parts of our land for some time, which prevented crops from being able to grow," said farmer Carter Morgan of Georgetown, Illinois. "Once we eliminated tillage and implemented cover crops, we got erosion under control, soil health improved and our herbicide use went way down." Morgan grows corn for several Kellogg's cereals such as Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, Apple Jacks and Corn Pops.
No-till farming and planting cover crops help to keep important nutrients like organic carbon in the soil, which promotes soil health. And because cover crops suppress weeds and disease, they can also help reduce the need for inputs like fertilizer, which also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
As a peer network leader who encourages use of the S.T.A.R. framework, Morgan is training farmers to adopt conservation practices. "Farmers want to hear from farmers who have already experienced success," added Morgan. "Through peer-to-peer training, we can get others to adopt new practices much quicker because the risk to trial has been removed." With Kellogg's support, S.T.A.R. now reaches over 200 farmers, representing more than 83,000 acres of Illinois farmland.
"We are grateful for Kellogg's collaboration and their support of S.T.A.R.," said Megan Baskerville, Illinois Ag program director at TNC. "With this grant we can connect even more farmers, helping them to grow robust crops while protecting our water and creating fields that are more resilient to climate impacts."
"We invest in programs that are proven to help farmers continue their mission to be good stewards of the land," said Mary Gallagher, Responsible Sourcing Senior Manager at Kellogg Company. "Our support of S.T.A.R. is one aspect of our larger Supporting U.S. Farmers collaboration with TNC to drive positive impact through conservation programs on 255,000 acres of land across Arkansas, Illinois, Michigan and Nebraska."
You can hear more from Carter Morgan about this impactful program here.