Yes, there is a World Soil Day – and here’s why it matters

By Kate Schaffner, Manager, Sustainable Agriculture

As a plant-based food company, Kellogg knows that healthier crops start with healthy soil.

Healthy, living soil nurtures the grains we use for our foods, of course, but it’s bigger than that. Healthy soils help keep freshwater clean, protect against drought, restore biodiversity, and even store carbon that would otherwise contribute to greenhouse emissions.

That’s why Kellogg celebrates World Soil Day December 5 – and every day – to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.

Kellogg has committed to supporting 1 million farmers and workers, especially women and smallholders, by the end of 2030 as part of our Kellogg’s Better Days global purpose platform. Our Kellogg’s Origins™ programs, which contribute to Better Days, focus on climate, social and financial resiliency – and soil health is key to all three.

Since 2015, we have directly invested in over 40 sustainable agriculture projects in sourcing regions for our priority ingredients and have reached more than 433,000 farmers globally. We partner with our suppliers, NGOs, and research institutions to provide farmers with training, technical assistance and cost-share to adopt improved practices and share what we learn to help support soil health across agriculture.

Here are a few examples of how we’re promoting soil health through implementing cover crops and other regenerative agriculture practices.

  • In Australia, Kellogg is partnering with Mars Petcare, Manildra Group, Sustainable Food Lab, and leading researchers at Charles Sturt University and Food Agility to launch the Cool Soil Initiative. This $2 million partnership will work alongside 200 wheat farmers over three years to adopt soil health practices like cover crops to improve their resilience to climate change. Healthy soils store carbon. If the Cool Soil Initiative can achieve a 0.1% increase in soil carbon across 1.7 million acres, the impact would the equivalent of removing more than 1 million cars from the road.

  • In the U.S., Kellogg has worked with The Nature Conservancy in Michigan since 2015 to help farmers implement soil conservation and regenerative agriculture practices on 67,000 acres of farmland in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. This included expanding TNC’s Pay-For-Performance program in 2019 to incentivize farmers to implement conservation tillage, cover crops, and other practices to reduce erosion. As a result, in 2019 alone, participating farmers were able to prevent an estimated 328 tons of soil – 23 dump trucks full – from eroding into Saginaw Bay.
  • Also in the U.S., we collaborated with The Nature Conservancy in Illinois and provided a grant to help expand the Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources (S.T.A.R.) program to recognize and support farmers’ adopting practices that limit soil erosion, improve water quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, participating farmers helped prevent more than 5,440 tons of CO2e[1] from entering the atmosphere through planting cover crops. That’s the equivalent of removing more than 13 million vehicle miles[2] from the road. With Kellogg’s support, the STAR program now reaches over 200 farmers, representing more than 83,000 acres of Illinois farmland.
  • In Mexico, we’ve partnered with the Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)) since 2013. This partnership focuses on making maize-based foods, including beloved Kellogg’s Corn Flakes® and Kellogg’s Zucaritas® cereals more sustainable and locally sourced. Though this program, 370 farmers  received training and support to minimize soil tillage and keep crop residues in their field to protect the soil’s surface, among other best practices.
  • In the United Kingdom, Kellogg worked with wheat farmers since 2013 to promote practices that improve soil fertility and support biodiversity as part of the country’s largest cover crop trial to-date. Results were shared in the training booklet “Cover Crops: A Practical Guide to Soil and System Improvements”.  In 2020, the project analyzed on farm carbon emissions and removals to create a road map for helping farms to become carbon neutral, which supports the UK National Farmers’ Union ambition to strive for a ‘net zero’ contribution to climate change across UK agricultural production by 2040.

We celebrate World Soil Day and the farmers we rely upon to protect and promote soil health to help enable a regenerative food system for the future. Learn more about why soil health matters here.

[1]  S.T.A.R. Annual Report-2019 Crop Year – 3dc4d7bf6c2f/downloads/Star%20report%20FINAL%202020.pdf?ver=1597671964705


Leave a Reply