Monsanto Field Research Facility at the Leading Edge of Sustainable Water Management Practices

9/20/2011

Monsanto’s commitment to sustainable agriculture takes shape in many ways. A key component of this commitment is discovering and delivering innovative products that support the farmers who feed, fuel and clothe our world is. In order for this commitment to work, however, we are obligated to operate in a sustainable fashion as well, to work efficiently and responsibly and to be a positive and enduring presence in the communities in which we operate.

One example of how we are applying sustainable principles to our business practices can be found in southern Florida, where, in 2009, Monsanto completed a state-of-the-art research facility to support the company’s growing vegetable seed business. This new 20-acre site houses 5000 square feet of greenhouses, as well as laboratories, storage spaces and offices, all of which have been built to complement our nearby test farm.

Given the low-lying terrain across much of southern Florida, the slightest alteration to the land or water table can adversely impact the living conditions of both people and indigenous wildlife. As such, the company engaged in a cooperative relationship with local authorities to ensure that any development Monsanto did in the area would have little, if any, negative effect on the surrounding land.

“Any development needs to take into account water issues and mitigate those so that you’re able to recreate what [environment] was there before,” Tim Burke, research station manager, said. “Since this area is a natural wetland, we wanted to maintain that environment, with low impact.”

In addition to making sure its construction planning was aligned with environmental impact regulations, the Monsanto team took the extra step of partnering with the State of Florida to create an on-site wetland preserve. A critical feature of this preserve is a retention pond that captures all the rain water at the facility and then slowly pumps the water into the adjoining wetland area. Burke and his team are responsible for the long-term stewardship of this preserve and for ensuring that nonnative and invasive species are kept out, thereby allowing it to remain a robust habitat for native wildlife.

“Across the globe, water is becoming more of a front end issue,” Burke said. “The quality of the water here is great, so we’re real sensitive about conserving water and developing more sustainable solutions.”