Fontanelle Hybrids, a Monsanto regional seed brand, is working to reduce its water footprint in the Western Corn Belt. Unlike the Central and Eastern U.S. Corn Belt, where corn is grown almost entirely under rain-fed conditions, corn in the Western Corn Belt is produced with irrigation.
“Over half of this area already has water pumping restrictions from local resource districts and/or has limited rainfall,” Nick Lammers, Fontanelle Aqua View lead, said. “Helping growers produce a crop under these conditions can mean the difference between a crop or no crop at all. If there is no crop, local farming communities will diminish, and animal production and the U.S. economy will suffer.”
In 2009, Fontanelle launched the Aqua View initiative—a systems approach to water conservation consisting of water management tools, quality seed genetics, educational programs and consulting support to help growers in irrigated areas maximize the value of their seeds and traits. The initiative helps customers better utilize water resources while increasing potential product performance.
“The Aqua View initiative supports Fontanelle’s effort to help customers succeed on their farms, and it follows Monsanto’s commitment to sustainable agriculture,” Lammers said. In order to feed 9 billion people by 2050, we have to do the work now to maximize the production of all of the pivot acres and conserve water for future crops.”
In 2011, Aqua View grew by 60 percent, and incorporated educational programs at area land grant universities, and personalized plans for growers to maximize pivot acres and conserve water through proper product placement and water management.
By 2013, Aqua View is expected to more than double the amount of systems on farms.
“The real power of the Aqua View initiative is that it doesn’t only benefit farmers in production agriculture; its results help the everyday consumer,” Lammers said.
Based on 2010 results from across all Aqua View system locations, the average Fontanelle grower saved three rounds of watering per field or roughly 10,590,060 gallons of water per pivot.
Because there is more of a chance for growers to overwater corn crops without monitoring equipment, the Aqua View initiative has also shown yield advantage.
“To obtain yield data, we teamed up with Monsanto’s Quantify the Value (QTV) studies,” Lammers said. “We identified a 5.5 bushel advantage on the acres managed using an Aqua View system. With corn at $6.00 per bushel, each Aqua View grower received an extra $30 per acre advantage from their yield increase. If you couple that with the energy cost saving valued at $11.35 per acre, Aqua View growers saw a new profit increase of $44.35 per acre.”