McDonald’s Combating Climate Change by Improving Soil Health

August 27, 2020

Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about dirt, but it’s critical to our lives. Healthy soil helps produce food, supports biodiversity, filters and stores water and – crucially – can capture carbon. 

Supporting Sustainable Farming

Sustainable and regenerative farming practices improve soil health and the soil’s ability to absorb carbon and remove it from the atmosphere, while also achieving better air and water quality, and potentially higher agricultural yields. Farmers are at the center of this work – and we want to support them to help advance and scale these climate solutions. 

We’re partnering with Target, Cargill and The Nature Conservancy to launch a five-year, $8.5 million project which will support farmers in adopting and implementing soil health practices – often called “regenerative” practices – that help mitigate climate change, while also improving the resiliency of their land. After five years the project is expected to sequester 150,000 metric tons of carbon, equivalent to removing 32,000 cars from the road in one year, generating more profit for farmers, as well as other important environmental benefits for habitats and local water quality. 

Implementing Soil Health Practices

The project, based in Nebraska, will work with farmers across 100,000 acres of land to implement a variety of soil health practices such as:

  • cover cropping - keeping the ground covered throughout the year to prevent soil erosion and loss of nutrients  
  • reduced tillage - disturbing the soil less and keeping soils intact, and  
  • diversified crop rotation - adding new crops, like oats, to a traditional rotation of corn and soybeans to replace nutrients lost from each crop.  

Making a Difference One Step at a Time

This is just one of the steps we’re taking to progress toward our science based target to significantly reduce emissions in our restaurants, offices and supply chain by 2030 from 2015 levels.  

Importantly, this project incorporates multiple measurement tools and techniques, such as soil sampling, to collect data that will guide further adoption of regenerative agricultural practices across the region. 

Want to dig deeper? Learn more about how we’re driving food system transformation within our network and beyond.

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