On June 8 of this year, The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) released its U.S. Corn Sustainability Goals and the first U.S. Corn Sustainability Report. The release of both the report and the sustainability goals is the culmination of an 18-month, farmer-led process; the report documents a long history of continuous improvement by U.S. corn farmers and the goals set targets for further progress over the next decade.
Looking back over more than the last decade, corn farmers across the country have adopted practices to defend against soil erosion, improve water quality and water use, and manage resources and nutrients through continuous improvements found in modern farming. From 1980 – 2015:
- More corn is being produced on less land. The amount of land required to produce a bushel of corn decreased by 41%.
- Per bushel, energy use decreased by 41%, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions decreased by 31%.
- Through the adoption of practices that reduce soil erosion, farmers reduced soil loss per acre by 58%.
- While only 14% of corn production is irrigated, those who irrigate have decreased irrigation water use by 46% per bushel.
Setting goals for further sustainability progress is the next phase of this storied history. Farmer-leaders of NCGA established five environmental national efficiency goals to be met by 2030:
- Increase land-use efficiency by 12%.
- Increase irrigation water use efficiency by 15%.
- Reduce soil erosion by 13%.
- Increase energy use efficiency by 13%.
- Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 13%.
“Through NCGA’s Sustainability Report, we have showcased not only what corn growers have accomplished historically, but also their continued dedication to increasing sustainability and efficiency now and for future generations to come,” said Nebraska farmer and NCGA Stewardship Action Team Chair Andy Jobman. “My brother and I are the fifth generation of our family to operate our farm. I would love to see that continue for another five generations. But that can’t happen without a conscious commitment to evolving and improving environmental, social and economic sustainability practices.”
NCGA’s open comment period for farmers, customers and others to provide feedback on the report and sustainability goals closes on Sunday, August 8: Corn Sustainability Report and 2030 Goals Public Comment Form.
For additional resources and information on NCGA’s commitment to continuous improvement on environmental, economic and social sustainability, visit ncga.com/sustainability.