Producing Sugar Sustainably on Earth Day, and Every Day
Earth Day is a day to celebrate our planet and bring awareness to the part that we all play in making the world a more sustainable place.
As stewards of the land, sugar farmers have been investing in a healthier planet for generations. They’re protecting the land that helps feed us and working to pass the American legacy of farming to the next generation.
For America’s sugar farmers and workers, producing sugar sustainably means creating a brighter future for us all. That’s why our producers are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water and soil quality, and sequester carbon. Over the past 20 years, we’ve vastly increased productivity, producing 16 percent more sugar on 11 percent less land while reducing inputs.
Through our Sugar Sustainably series, we’ve been able to document some of the ways sugar producers are continuously investing in our planet and producing America’s sweetest crop with future generations in mind. Check out a selection of stories below and view the full playlist of Sugar Sustainably stories on YouTube.
- Targeted application of nitrogen helps spur crop production, but it’s important to only use as much as you need. Sugarcane farmers like Keith Dugas are working with researchers to test new technologies to apply precise amounts of what a crop needs, like nitrogen, and only when they need it. This practice better protects the environment.
- Over in Colorado, fourth-generation sugarbeet farmer Paul Schlagel is working to make his farm more sustainable. The Schlagel farm uses strip tilling to prepare the ground for seed, reducing the amount of carbon released back into the air which helps to improve air quality.
- RaNae Isaak is an engineer at Cummins who grew up on a sugarbeet farm and has helped design more efficient tractor engine systems that are used on sustainable farms all over the U.S. Thanks to agricultural innovators like RaNae, tractors are now able to harvest 100 acres with the same emissions used to harvest just one acre in 1997.
- In addition to sugar, our producers supply several co-products that have multiple uses – including use as a renewable biofuel! Many sugarcane processors, for example, fuel their boilers using bagasse, which is the fiber leftover from extracting the sugar from the cane. By using bagasse, the companies take what would be waste and turn it into an energy source.
We should all be encouraged to look at ways to invest in our planet to create a brighter future. America’s sweetest industry is proud to do our part by prioritizing people, protecting the planet, producing superior products, and promoting fair-price policies.
Happy Earth Day!