By David Frabotta

New Online Tool Aims to Accelerate Conservation Agriculture

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February 1, 2024

Farmer engagement with data-driven, farmer-centered messaging doubled compared to traditional outreach strategies.  

Lenexa, Kan. (Feb. 1, 2024) — A new web-based tool provides an interactive guide to help conservation professionals optimize and scale engagement with farmers and ranchers. The step-by-step tool is designed to help groups ranging from supply chain businesses to local conservation districts develop effective ways to engage farmers on how conservation can fit within their operations, encourage adoption and enroll producers into programs.

Farm Journal’s Trust In Food™ developed ReachFarmersFaster.com in partnership with the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative and Environmental Initiative to meet the challenge of scaling conservation agriculture with mainstream producers using a data-informed campaign to facilitate the next wave of practice adoption.  

The tool was built around results of a two-year project that began with comprehensive data analysis on how producers see themselves and their goals for their operation. The project sought to understand their attitudes on themes such as innovation, risk management, legacy planning and conservation management practices. Dominant attitudes and motivations were then converted into engagement materials and deployed across Farm Journal platforms to determine the most successful ways to engage producers with information and opportunities around conservation agriculture. 

“We know that when a producer makes a change in their operation, that choice is the result of a decision-making process that spans months or even years,” said Amy Skoczlas Cole, president of Trust In Food. “Our goal was to accelerate that process by aligning conservation practices with the motivations, attitudes and goals farmers see as most important. To scale our work in conservation agriculture, we need to understand that each farmer is unique with their own perspective, not just about conservation agriculture, but on a variety of operational challenges they face and the goals they are working toward. We really need to listen to what farmers are telling us to make progress.”

This farmer-centered approach personalizes messaging and creates a deeper context in which producers can evaluate information and consider important decisions that affect their operation. During this project, farmers engaged with the information provided to them at more than twice the rate of traditional engagement. The project revealed that farmers who engaged with the content are more informed and ready to act. 

For the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, whose members span the full food and agriculture value chain, this work helps its members and their field-level partners who are designing and implementing campaigns in food and agricultural systems to understand new ways to positively engage farmers of varying crop types and readiness to adopt conservation practices. One of MRCC’s goals is to directly support 30,000 Midwestern farm operations in their transition to regenerative agriculture by 2030. 

“Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed to helping protect, restore, or more sustainably manage 50 million acres of land by 2030. To achieve this, we are investing in projects like this tool that help conservation professionals reach farmers more effectively and connect farmers with programs that can help them build soil health, improve their livelihoods, and be more resilient,” said Gregory Bohrer, Director of Natural Capital at the Walmart Foundation, a project funder. “Making sure we reach farmers in the way they want to be reached is a key step in finding ways to help them reach their goals.”

Visit ReachFarmersFaster.com for research results, campaign materials and a guided tutorial on how to create your own data-driven, producer-focused outreach and methods.

About Farm Journal

Farm Journal is the nation’s leading business information and media company serving the agricultural market. Started 147 years ago with the preeminent Farm Journal magazine, the company serves the row crop, livestock, produce and retail sectors through branded websites, eNewsletters and phone apps; business magazines; live events including conferences, seminars and tradeshows; nationally broadcasted television and radio programs; a robust mobile-text-marketing business; and an array of data-driven, paid information products. Farm Journal is also the majority shareholder of the online equipment marketplace, Machinery Pete LLC. Trust In Food is a Farm Journal division dedicated to accelerating the adoption of climate-smart and regenerative agriculture in ways that work for producers and enhance connection to consumers. In 2010, the company established the non-profit, public charity, Farm Journal Foundation, dedicated to sustaining agriculture’s ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population through education and empowerment. 

About Trust In Food
Trust In Food is a purpose-driven division of Farm Journal dedicated to mainstreaming and accelerating the transition to more sustainable and regenerative ag practices, making every dollar invested in conservation agriculture more impactful. We bring business intelligence to agricultural production behavior change: helping farmers understand, value and feel capable of undertaking practice change through data science, social research and strategic communications deployed through the omnichannel Farm Journal platform in collaboration with our partners. Visit www.trustinfood.comto learn more.

About Midwest Row Crop Collaborative 

The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative (MRCC) is an innovative partnership of leading industry supply chain companies and nonprofits aligned to drive positive environmental change across the Midwest and Mississippi River Basin. Members span the full food and agriculture value chain, and they collaborate to tackle systematic barriers to the scaling of regenerative agriculture across the landscape. Members include American Farmland Trust, Bayer, Cargill, Environmental Defense Fund, Kellogg Company, Nutrien Ag Solutions, PepsiCo, The Nature Conservancy, Unilever, Walmart and WWF. Environmental Initiative, a nonprofit organization working to advance social equity and environmental health, has convened the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative since 2019.

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