Partnering to Protect and Replenish Water Resources for the Future

From preserving wetlands to supporting smart irrigation — Nestlé Purina is taking action

Diane Herndon
Mar 18, 2019 · 4 min read
[Image via The Nature Conservancy Video Archive — see video below]

Water is essential to life, including on farms where high-quality ingredients are grown for our country’s food supply. It is estimated that 80% of the fresh water supply in the U.S. is used for agriculture. Our ability to source quality ingredients into the future depends on farms having sufficient water.

At Nestlé Purina, we make complete and balanced recipes for dogs and cats that include high-quality, nutritious ingredients grown on American farms. Farmers are great stewards of their land and work hard to protect the natural resources. To complement their good work, we’re engaged with like-minded conservation groups, universities, government agricultural agencies, and other companies to work alongside farmers to enhance the environmental resilience of their land.

Here’s a look at some of our partnerships, and how we’re taking action to protect the future of food.

In dryer Western States, irrigation is often needed to provide sufficient water for growing crops. This can sometimes lead to over-watering — which is bad for both water supplies and the quality of crops that are going into the foods that we and our pets eat.

The Nature Conservancy, Cargill and Nestlé Purina, working with farmers in Nebraska, are using sensors and internet technology to collect real-time weather, humidity and precipitation data from farms and download it to an app on the farmer’s smart phone. This lets the farmer know when more or less water is needed, and empowers him or her to turn irrigation equipment on or off right from the app — saving time, money, and water.

How big an impact can this have? This technology is expected to save 2.4 billion gallons of water across 50 farms over three years and provide a scalable solution for farmers across the U.S.

Over the last 50 years the United States has lost more than 17 million acres of wetlands. Why does this matter? Wetlands have a number of functions — they provide habitats for waterfowl, fish and other animals; they filter water, retain carbon, and help local trees and plants thrive; they prevent flooding and they’re also great for rice crops.

We’re a supporter of the Rice Stewardship Partnership, led by USA Rice and Ducks Unlimited. Our organizations and many partners are working with rice growers to develop winter-month wetlands that support sustainable growth of this essential grain and protect migrating waterfowl. Wetlands conserve water, and waterfowl fertilize and minimally till the soil as they forage for unharvested grain.

At Purina we believe that healthy land grows strong, quality ingredients for our recipes, and this practice helps to keep rice farms healthy for the long term.

The Wabash River flows through farms in Indiana and Illinois where we source quality ingredients for our pet food recipes. Over the years, the creation of levees along the river for flood control has disconnected the river from its floodplain where the nutrients and sediment would normally settle out.

We’re working with The Nature Conservancy alongside farmers and other groups to restore wetlands and woodlands at key junctures of the river. This is helping to restore the Wabash River in those areas to its former state, resulting in cleaner water flowing downstream. As the growing vegetation soaks up the nutrients and carbon, less flows into the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, which benefits farmers and the environment alike.

We only have one planet, and we all eat and drink from what healthy natural systems provide. Nestlé Purina wants to do our part to help keep the environment clean and productive for our families, including our pets, for many generations to come. To do so, we’ve got to work together.

We’re committed to doing our part.

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