Advancing Soil Health & Water Stewardship

Climate change is rapidly accelerating and straining the natural resources that our food system — and all of life — depend on. Agriculture is a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions and a leading user of water, but it also has tremendous potential to drive high-impact climate solutions.

Improving soil health on agricultural land is a linchpin of MBOLD’s approach because it benefits farmers, protects water and provides robust climate solutions.

Why it matters

MBOLD is working to make Minnesota a global leader in soil health by developing scalable agronomic, market and engagement systems that enable farmers to adopt soil health principles profitably.

Working hand-in-hand with partners across the value chain, we are accelerating adoption of practices that build and regenerate healthy soils, sequester carbon, improve water quality and support the well-being of farmers and ranchers by diversifying farm incomes.

MBOLD CEO Champion – Joan Gabel, President, University of Minnesota

What MBOLD is doing

MBOLD is piloting on-the-ground efforts to help farmers adopt soil health principles like reducing soil disturbance, keeping the soil covered with living plants throughout the year, maximizing plant diversity and integrating crop and livestock systems. To make that possible, we are also committed to crafting strategies that acknowledge, manage and reduce the risks farmers face as they transition.

Engaging farmers in Minnesota's Red River Valley
MBOLD will engage leading-edge farmers in soil health innovation in the Red River Valley, a major producer of sugar beets, wheat, corn and other commodities. Working with farmers, local soil and water conservation districts, university partners and others, we will help farmers adapt soil health principles to their unique context in the Red River Valley through cost-share funding for growers, on-farm demonstration sites, education, technical assistance and evaluation of the impact on farm economics.

Project leads: General Mills and Cargill
Co-designing commercialization pathways for the cover crop winter camelina
Longer, more diversified crop rotations and cover crops are critical for healthy soil, carbon storage, water stewardship and greater resiliency in the face of a changing climate. To achieve scale, these practices must be an economically compelling choice for farmers and buyers alike. MBOLD is bringing together leaders across the value chain to jointly evaluate and create market opportunities for winter camelina and small grains to complement the typical corn/soy crop rotation.

Project lead: University of Minnesota Forever Green Project
Participating in an Ecosystem Service Market Consortium pilot in Minnesota
Compensating farmers for the environmental benefits their land provides through mechanisms like carbon and water credits is key for increasing adoption of regenerative farming practices. MBOLD members General Mills, Cargill and Land O’Lakes are working with the Ecosystem Services Marketplace Consortium (ESMC) to develop these credit systems. MBOLD will collaborate with ESMC and The Nature Conservancy on a new pilot project in Minnesota’s Sauk River Watershed to develop and test this approach with the goal of enabling farmers to generate financial value from improved stewardship of soil and water resources.

See more of MBOLD in action

We are pioneering new ways to recycle flexible films and fight the environmental impact of plastic waste.

Learn more