Research aims to demonstrate economic and environmental gains for sustainable ranching practices. The systems-based research project focuses on 12 interrelated topics — including soil carbon and water, greenhouse gas emissions, and livestock wellbeing and resilience.
The VF Foundation (the charitable arm of VF Corporation) and the Timberland® and Wrangler® brands today announced $150,000 in grants to researchers at seven US universities — including Arizona State University and Michigan State University — that are conducting the first comprehensive research into regenerative ranching practices.
Through this multi-year, interdisciplinary research, teams will evaluate if regenerative ranching yields meaningful improvements by comparing its impacts with those of continuous ranching practices. Initial, isolated studies of regenerative farming practices are promising, indicating these techniques could lead to significant environmental, social and economic benefits.
Ranchers and farmers who use regenerative ranching practices mimic the natural movement of herd animals by intensively grazing dense cattle herds in relatively small areas before moving them to other similarly-sized areas. Such grazing allows for more rest and regrowth of the grasses not in use, which can lead to better food for livestock and healthier soil, as these grasses pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the ground. In theory, this makes the land more productive with greater resistance to both drought and heavy rain.
“The Wrangler brand was born out of the American West way of life, so it is important to us to support farmers and ranchers in the challenges they face such as land productivity, development pressures, and loss of biodiversity,” said Tom Waldron, Global Brand President for Wrangler. “Whether it’s funding research or building new supply chains, we’re proud to improve the lives of people who make their living off the land.”
The systems-based research project focuses on 12 interrelated topics — including soil carbon and water, greenhouse gas emissions, and livestock wellbeing and resilience. Of interest to both Timberland and Wrangler is the farmer wellbeing portion of the study, which focuses on the aspects of ranching that are likely to yield financial benefits for farmers, potentially leading to rapid adoption and future scale. This robust socio-economic study will be linked with the ecological data gathered to provide a holistic view of the social and environmental opportunities.
The Timberland and Wrangler brands are also working to pilot a leather supply chain based on traceable hides from US farms using regenerative practices, with the goal to launch product collections incorporating leather from this supply chain in 2020.
“As we look to the future, one key element of Timberland’s sustainability strategy is moving beyond minimizing negative impact to strategically create social and environmental benefits within our supply chain,” said Jim Pisani, Global Brand President for Timberland. “We’ve only begun to truly understand the environmental, economic, social and humane benefits of regenerative grazing. We are energized by the prospect of a net-positive leather source, and incredibly proud to be leading the way in supporting this important research.”