Sustainability

3 Technologies Farmers are Using to Protect the Environment

In April, General Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell joined Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon to announce a commitment to accelerate innovation in sustainable agriculture and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through an initiative called Field to Market (FTM).

The announcement was made in Bentonville, Arkansas, at Walmart’s first-ever Sustainable Product Expo.

General Mills and Walmart pledged to more than double the reach of Field to Market, a nonprofit organization dedicated to working across the agriculture supply chain to address the food demands of the rapidly growing population, while conserving natural resources.

Success in this endeavor would mean that FTM would expand to 2.5 million acres by 2015.

Last week, Walmart and General Mills met with FTM and farmers in Idaho to talk about sustainable agriculture best practices and to kick off an innovation challenge aimed at reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) through nitrogen fertilizer optimization technologies.

The technologies selected through this challenge will help farmers make sure that every pound of nitrogen they apply is used by their crop as effectively as possible, bringing the greatest yield at the lowest cost and reducing the impact on the environment.

Sustainable agriculture


So, what are some of the current technologies being used to increase farmers’ productivity and protect the environment for future generations?

Here are three examples:

1. Fieldprint Calculator – This innovative calculator offered by FTM allows farmers to track information related to their specific farm. They are able to compare how they are doing against average results in their area.

The farmers can then identify opportunities to improve their results and increase their productivity in future years while having a positive impact on land use, conservation, soil carbon, irrigation water use, water quality, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. “By visualizing what is happening, it changes the way we do things,” said one of the farmers in Idaho this week.

2. Fertigation – This technology allows the application of nitrogen at the same time irrigation water is applied.

This approach helps prevent the loss of nitrogen into the air that occurs when fertilizer is applied to the top of the soil by placing the nitrogen right at the roots of the plants, where it is needed.

3. Aerial imagery analysis – This technology is helping farmers target specific parts of their fields that require herbicide or fertilization treatment, avoiding the cost and potential environmental damage of spraying an entire field.

We’re excited to build on this toolkit of technologies this winter when we announce the results of our innovation challenge with Field to Market.

Accelerating innovation in sustainable agriculture will continue to be a priority for Walmart and General Mills given the promise it holds for farm communities and the long-term value it provides to society, the environment and business.

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Community

Helping Women Find Their Strong Suits Through Dress for Success

On New Year’s Eve 2014, Samantha pulled into a hotel in Northwest Arkansas, leaving an abusive relationship and destructive lifestyle behind in Texas.

Alone in a new state, with just her daughter, Samantha had no real plan in place, but she did have a goal: building a better life for herself. Two weeks after arriving and still seeking a job, Samantha heard about Dress for Success, a global nonprofit organization that provides professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help disadvantaged women thrive in work and in life.

In 2012, knowing that the local poverty rate was nearly 19% and the unemployment rate was 5.7%, several Walmart home office associates strongly believed that Northwest Arkansas was an important location for the organization's first affiliate in the state. Now nearly three years old, the mission for Dress for Success Northwest Arkansas remains the same: to help women like Samantha find financial independence as they work their way out of negative situations.

Dress For Success Volunteer Helping Client

Marie Paterson, a Walmart human resources associate who is a key leader with Dress for Success Northwest Arkansas, told me, “Volunteering with a local affiliate is especially meaningful because we’re making a difference right here. Our clients are becoming confident and equipped to raise not only their standard of living but also their families’, and they are becoming role models for their children, their friends and communities.”

When Samantha left Texas, friends and family weren’t the only things she left behind. She left behind the clothes and possessions that would present her as professional and hirable in interviews that another local agency had helped her find. Beyond that, she had no idea what to expect from Dress for Success.

Woman Standing at Desk Looking Through Papers

“The actual experience at Dress for Success was so much more powerful than I could have expected,” Samantha said. “Not only did they provide me with one-on-one attention for my suiting, but they did a mock interview and gave me feedback on areas to improve.” Later, Samantha said, she felt prepared and confident enough to ace her interview for her dream job: becoming a key member of the team at a local car dealership.

Now in a much healthier situation, Samantha is looking to the future and wants to be a “giant success” in the auto industry. She is actively looking for ways to reach out to women in situations similar to the one she left in Texas to show them that anything is possible. 

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Sustainability

Helping Customers Know More About How Food is Raised

At Walmart, we view food sustainability as a commitment to help the world feed a quickly-growing population through the four-pillar approach of making food more affordable, more accessible, healthier, and more safe and transparent.

The “safe and transparent” component involves promoting human rights and animal welfare among suppliers and across food chains. It means putting customers in charge of their food choices, and ensuring they have clear, accurate information about food ingredients and production methods.

Our customers have told us that they want to know more about where their food comes from, and how it was sourced. Today, we are announcing updated positions regarding animal welfare and the responsible use of antibiotics in farm animals. You can view them here.

We view these positions as a positive step forward for our company, and for the food industry overall. Yet it is ultimately our suppliers who are leading on safety and transparency. As a retailer that sells products but does not produce them, we can use our strengths to influence change across our supply chain. The most impactful change, however, happens through partnerships.

Sustainability is an ongoing journey for our company, and full food transparency will not happen overnight. It will come through long-term innovation, hard work, and partnership.

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Community

Walmart #NWAChampionship Player Gaby Lopez: ‘The Impossible Can Be Possible’

This weekend, University of Arkansas golfer Gaby Lopez will enjoy her third opportunity to join LPGA players on the greens at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Here, she shares her thoughts on the tournament – as well as pursuing her dreams on and off the course.

WMT: You took up golf at age 4 while growing up in Mexico. What drew you to the sport? 

Lopez: My dad introduced me to golf. It all started as a fun game, nothing serious. A couple of years later, Lorena Ochoa became the No. 1 women’s golfer in the world. That was when I knew that the impossible can be possible, and golf became my passion. 

WMT: Tell us about your journey to today, where you’re a standout on the University of Arkansas golf team.

Lopez: Coming to the University of Arkansas has been the best decision I've made. I've grown as a golfer but more important as a person. I'm 100% certain that I have the right people around me, like Coach Shauna (Estes-Taylor) and Coach Mike (Adams), by my side that will always push me to be my best. 

Gaby Lopez smiles on a golf course during the LPGA Tour in Rogers, Arkansas

WMT: During this week’s event, you’re playing in front of hometown fans. What is that like? How does it compare to other tournaments?

Lopez: This tournament makes me feel like I’m at home. The Northwest Arkansas and Razorback communities have opened their doors to me and my family in a very special way. It is a huge honor to be able to represent my school and my country at the same time. Calling the Hogs with all the fans on No. 17 is one of my favorite golf moments - the energy is amazing. I feel blessed to have this opportunity for the third time in my collegiate career. 

WMT: Empowering women to recognize their full potential is a longtime priority for Walmart. You’re certainly a role model for other youth – do you have any advice for young girls on not just pursuing professional sports, but succeeding in whatever they do?

Lopez: My advice would be to always do and pursue what interests you, whether that is golf, sports or anything else. Discipline and passion are two characteristics I think a person needs to be successful, and I think believing in yourself is the most powerful tool of all. 

WMT: What are your own dreams, and what do you envision as your next step?

Lopez: I think everyone who plays the game dreams of being the best player ever and I certainly want to be the best player I can be. But I think more importantly I want to be remembered for what I did off the golf course. I want to finish out my senior season with the Razorbacks and enjoy every minute of the team atmosphere – that is a unique experience in golf. After graduation, I’ll start work on earning my Tour card and see where that journey takes me.    

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Opportunity

7 Fathers, 7 Sons, 1 Distribution Center

Lots of people use the term “work family” casually, but in Marcy, N.Y., it’s quite the literal thing. At one Walmart distribution center, seven fathers and seven sons work alongside each other, all as Walmart truck drivers.

Having your parent as a coworker could be a nuisance for some, but for many of these sons, it’s a privilege. Watch them describe why they’ve looked up to their fathers for years, and why they ultimately chose to pursue the same road with Walmart logistics. 

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