Giving Compass' Take:

• John Davies unpacks the barriers to sustainable agriculture in the United States -- a topic that was discussed at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit.

• How can funders support farmers to support the transition to sustainable agriculture? 

• Find out why sustainable farming isn't one size fits all.

The recent Sustainable Agriculture Summit last month in Indianapolis was billed as a forum to collectively create a roadmap for U.S. agriculture to meet the challenge of the 21st century. The goal: produce more with less while staying economically profitable and preserving finite natural resources in a changing climate.

That’s no small task, and I was interested to learn more about how this can be achieved.

The overriding sustainability initiative for most farmers today is economic viability. During a live podcast hosted by Field Work’s Mitchell Hora with guests from Hellman’s, Unilever and an Iowa farm, the discussion addressed the need for the right incentives to drive change at a farm level. Much of the climate change discussion around farming is focused on soil health but farmers aren’t getting paid to improve soil health, they’re rewarded for increasing yield. This may seem like too much of a short-term focus but according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than half of U.S. cropland is leased annually, making it difficult for operators to make long-term investments such as planting cover crops.

The other big topic discussed on the main stage as well as in breakouts is a need for more farm-level data. While farming has become more tech-intensive thanks to autonomous tractors and precision irrigation, scientists only have scratched the surface of understanding the soil biome.

Read the full article about sustainable agriculture by John Davies at GreenBiz.