Stewardship Program Overview

The International Water Institute's Stewardship Program (SP) provides new information to help agricultural producers manage agronomic risk and realize continuous soil and nutrient retention. Producers enrolled in the program can quickly explore how their current and potential farm operations affect their fields’ soil and nutrient loss, profitability, and yield by utilizing the SP's Wayfindr (patent pending) technology.  Wayfindr helps producers decide whether to pursue a specific farming strategy for their fields by a “Stewardship Rating” based on quantitative water, soil, and nutrient retention metrics.

SP increases net return per acre while reducing the risks associated with changing the farm operation.  SP add value to the farming operation by opening doors to new revenue possibilities including utilizing the SP’s "Stewardship Rating" to “certify” the producers’ operation at the field and farm scales, generate information to access carbon markets, certify products to make them stand out in the marketplace, negotiate preferred loan rates at the bank using the Stewardship Rating, and selling water credits in the ecosystem services marketplace.

The Stewardship Program Approach

The SP approach focuses on increasing net return by farming marginal areas within a field more creatively.  Every field has low-yield areas due to water ponding, accelerated wind, water erosion, or the presence of saline groundwater.  The SP addresses these resource challenges by simultaneously reducing inputs and modifying the tillage system, crop rotation, fertilizer application methods, and conservation practices. The bottom line is that the SP will allows producers to quantify the amount of soil and nutrients retained/lost given a set of farming practices chosen by the producer while maintaining or improving the producer’s net return.



The Stewardship Program Outcomes

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·        Increase/maintain net return.

·        Quantify and improve water, soil, and nutrient retention within the field.

·        Establish and improve your Stewardship Rating

·        Leverage market interest in land stewardship.

·        Increase yield in low-performing areas of the field

·        Improve soil conditions.

·        Better management of agronomic risk and preservation of agricultural legacy.

·        Detailed analysis and reporting of current and alternative farming strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should A Producer Participate in the Program?

An application is required to participate in the SP. Participation is voluntary. One or more fields can be enrolled in the program. If you are interested in researching and putting new ideas into practice to enhance your agricultural operation, take part.

What do Participants Receive?

Producers receive information for each field enrolled in the SP. Producers compare their existing operation to alternative field plans (developed through the SP) to understand how to boost net return, raise the Stewardship Rating, and manage environmental outcomes. Delving into the details means a famer can better understand the rate of soil loss, irrigation efficiency, nutrient loss, soil water retention and their downstream water quality impact. Producers can evaluate their net return and expenses against similar farms operating in the region.

How Are the Results Used

You can use the results to implement specific methods to improve your operation and realize an increase in the net return per acre, while increasing your stewardship rating and improve water management. 

What Information is required?

The easiest way to describe your operation is with a six-crop, tillage, and fertilizer history for each field. Developing and evaluating strategies (i.e., field plans) to improve the net return and stewardship rating requires the same data. Using the Wayfindr technology, field and prescription maps can be quickly produced or uploaded for use in producing the information products offered through the SP. It's also vital to provide details about your farming approach, field drainage methods and conservation efforts. The financial analysis requires crop yield, commodity price and direct and indirect production expense information.

What is the Time Commitment?

The time commitment varies depending on how well records are organized and how deeply a producer wants to delve into the specifics of the results. In less than a day, a well-organized producer can gather all the data required for the SP. The data required can be rapidly collected using our Wayfindr technology during the first of three Producer meetings. Meetings are required to develop the strategies intended to improve the farm operation and review results. Depending on the level of organization and the accessibility of farm records, the typical time commitment ranges from 16 to 40 hours.

Who is Providing Funding?

The SP is financed by The Mosaic Company, The International Water Institute and Cargill.

What is the Producer Cost?

The Producer incurs no costs UNLESS they want to leave the program without good reason. All producer cost is defrayed by program funders.

Will I Receive a Stipend?

Rather than a stipend, Producers receive the information products at no charge.

Am I Obligated to Program Funders?

No.  The IWI reports only the expected improvements in water runoff and water quality realized through the program to the funders.  No personal or business information is shared. 

Who Owns The Producer’s Data

The Producer owns the data provided. A confidentiality agreement signed during the application process describes data ownership and use.  No information about a farm operation is disclosed. Any information within reports will be anonymous. You will retain ownership of all your data.

Who Will I be Speaking to and Sharing Information With?

The SP is being led by staff from the IWI. The face-to-face meetings are expected to occur on your farm with a representative of the IWI.

Can my Trusted Agronomic Advisor Participate?

Yes. Participation is highly encouraged. Including your agronomist or crop consultant in the discussion about how to increase net return is very helpful.

Is there a downside with participating?

Participating in the SP requires a time commitment from you. This will include time needed by you to share your operational methods and precision agricultural data. There is also a possibility the SP may show unexpected results. 

What if there are problems?

We certainly hope there are no problems. However, should you encounter problems you may discuss these with the science lead from the IWI and if necessary, withdraw from the program. If you withdraw after the start of the SPP and have used Technical Services, you will be required to reimburse the IWI for these costs.


Wayfindr

 

For Questions Contact:

David Kramar

david@iwinst.org