A partially harvested field of wheat under a pale blue sky that is dotted with clouds.
Wheat Farming Ohio’s 17 wheat growers who participated in the pilot soil health and nutrient management program experienced higher yields on fewer acres than their peers. © Randall L. Schieber


Innovative Pilot Demonstrates Higher Yields and Lower Energy Use with Precision Nutrient Management and In-field Soil Health Practices

3-year pilot program with Ohio wheat growers successful

Media Contacts

In 2019, Syngenta’s Sustainable Solutions, The Nature Conservancy and 4R-Certified Legacy Farmer’s Cooperative joined forces to develop and implement an innovative grower-focused pilot program for Ohio’s wheat growers. The results of that pilot program are in and show a win-win-win for farmers, agribusiness and the environment.

The goals of the pilot program were to offer an agribusiness service package and incentives directly to growers to implement soil health practices coupled with precision 4R nutrient management practices, track those practices through the Syngenta farm management system, and then benchmark those outcomes against conventional practices currently being utilized in the Western Lake Erie Basin, the state and nationally. “We were excited to work with great partners on this project and see real change,” says Liz Hunt, Syngenta sustainability head. “Getting insights from data analytics is essential to tracking progress with our ag retail partners and farmers.”

By tracking sustainability outcomes, Legacy Farmer’s Cooperative, a 4R-Certified retailer, was able to demonstrate positive trends in yields, lower fertilizer use and better climate-smart environmental outcomes for the 3,591 acres that enrolled in the program. In fact, Ohio’s 17 growers who participated in the program experienced 36% higher yields between 2019 and 2022, could grow those yields on 300 fewer acres and saved 1.7 tons of soil per acre compared with their statewide peers who did not enroll in the program. Additionally, participants consistently outperformed their national peers by reducing overall energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 14.8 CO2 equivalents/acre per field to market metrics. 

“This pilot project reinforces the importance of using and sharing on-farm data,” said Jessica D’Ambrosio, agriculture director for The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. “By tracking outcomes, growers and agribusinesses can find creative ways to improve their bottom lines, increase crop yields and protect the natural resources we all share.”

“Using a precision nutrient management approach to meet our agronomic and water quality goals has always been core to our mission,” says Paige Fitzwater, precision services manager at Legacy Co-op. “Bringing in this digital database allowed us to show growers what part of environmental sustainability was in their control, which helped our staff talk to them about why sustainability is an important part of farm management.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.