Women in Sustainable Agriculture

Green Industry, pink boots: women in sustainable agriculture

Women in sustainable agriculture work to sustain the Earth for future generations. If you recognize the interrelatedness of people, the planet, and the practical matters of finance, business, public policy, and human behavior, then every job can be a sustainability job! Read more to find out what makes a job a sustainability job.

Sustainability: Feed the world without destroying it

Sustainability can be a complicated goal to wrap your head around. The heart of it is making choices in your life and your work that equitably balances concerns of environmental soundness, economic viability, and social justice among all sectors of society. 

There is no single criteria or production practice that determines a sustainable operation, but it is a series of decisions towards the goal of balancing the concerns of people, planet, and profit. For example, when a grower makes the decision to apply mid-season nitrogen to take advantage of a favorable growing season instead of potentially wasting time, money, and nitrogen by over-applying before planting, they are making a sustainable decision. 

Today, a new generation of consumer is asking more of their food supply chain: 

  • Where products come from
  • How they are produced
  • What care was taken to protect the environment and social/worker conditions. 

This means that market demands are changing, and to meet this new demand for sustainable crops, many companies are committing to being 100% sustainable by 2020. 

The most obvious sustainable agriculture job for women is "farmer," of course, and more women are joining the profession every year!

The number of female farmers has increased from 128,000 in 1978 to 969,672 in 2012. The percentage of all farmers who are women has nearly tripled in this time, from 5% to 14% of all principal farm operators being women in 2012. 

Just as farmers are not the only people in agriculture, women who farm are not the only women in sustainable agriculture, not by a long shot!

Women in sustainability hail from small towns or big cities and learned their craft at great universities or on construction sites. Women in sustainability believe in protecting the Earth and that their work makes it cleaner and greener. They also recognize the interrelatedness of people, the planet, and the practical matters of finance, business, public policy, and human behavior. This makes just about every job a sustainability job as we try to feed a hungry world. Sustainable decisions balance the wants of profit and of people with the maintenance of natural processes, ecosystem services, the integrity of landscapes, watersheds, and aquatic habitats. To be sustainable in a resource constrained world, growers' management decisions must account for these shared natural resources while driving productivity and profitability and continuing to provide food, feed, fuel, and fiber to a hungry world. 

Here at Agrible, we believe that all agriculture can and should be sustainable, from the smallest local CSA, to the largest commodity grower group. 

Agrible helps growers accomplish this with their Morning Farm Report and Sustainability products:

  • Morning Farm Report™ supplies growers with tools that help them stay aware of their nutrient needs. This is invaluable when growers need to know how much return they're getting on their investment, and help them keep nitrogen on their field - and out of the surrounding environment. 
  • Morning Farm Report tools like Tractor Time, Spray Smart™, Advanced Nutrient Engine, Yield Engine, and more allow growers to make strategic choices on virtually every aspect of their operation. 
  • In the Sustainable Sourcing Yield Program, each key measure of sustainability for a grower's field is compared to a local benchmark. These measures include Energy Use, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Soil Use (Land Use / Soil Loss / Soil Carbon combined), Water Use, Water Quality, and Nitrogen Use. 
  • Sustainability metrics from Morning Farm Report help growers show their engagement for downstream buyers, highlighting sustainable practices, demonstrating value, and connecting with ag industry sustainability standards and toolsets, to create a competitive edge in their operation. 
  • Sustainability "levels the playing field" between growers and consumers, and shares the values to the downstream client with the growers, while anonymous aggregated data allows growers to preserve their local business advantages. 

All of these tools were created by and for people in agriculture: Growers, weather experts, science nerds, plant geeks, programmers, ag sales reps, and more. Click on the links below to read more about women working in sustainable agriculture, both at Agrible and around the world! 

Women in the field

The Farmettes, sustained American farming through World War I and II. 
Marie Bowers-Stagg, fifth generation grower in Oregon. VP of AgChat
Kyle Brisendine, grass-based livestock manager in Michigan. 
Ida Simila, family farmer in Finland.
Stacy Schroeder, farm wife and mother in Illinois. 
Dori Troutman, small cattle rancher in Tennessee. 
Jamie Gerardi, horseback riding stable owner in Illinois. 
Cathe Capel, small livestock and vegetable farmer in Illinois. 
Rebecca Vasquez, urban farmer. 
Joan Jach, small farmer producing local, sustainable fresh flowers. 
Amy Hoying, Dairy farmer
Vera Betzelberger, 4-H Leader, Endurance horseback rider, and lifelong woman in ag. 
Ruth Hambleton, so-runs a small cow calf operation, where they grow hay and utilize rotaional grazing. Founder of Annie's Project

Women in agricultural science

Sharon Gray, Postdoctoral Research fellow in Biology at the University of California, Davis. 
Laura Christianson, Research Assistant Professor of Water Quality at the University of Illinois. 

Women in agricultural communications

Jennifer Shike, Director of Communications and Marketing for the College of ACES. 
Katie Knapp, agricultural photographer and communications consultant
Marji Guyler-Alaniz, FarmHer founder, showing women's involvement in agriculture. 
Lisa Steele, blogger, author, and 'professional chicken enthusiast' behind Fresh Eggs Daily
Kaity Spangler, agricultural educator. 
Erica Quednau, lead reporter and anchor for the noon news at WCIA's Channel 3. 

Women in Agribusiness

Holly Bauman, Agronomy Training Coordinator for The Equity
Laura Gentry, Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Corn Marketing Board Director of Water Quality Science. 
Stephanie Cole, seed saleswoman at Mycogen Seeds
Krista Lottinville, farmer, seed saleswoman, and Account Manager with Burrus Seeds
Keri Richardson, Illinois Sales Manager for ADM Crop Risk Services Division. 
Kelsey McNamara, Field Advisor at Brandt Consolidated
Angie Setzer, "The Goddess of Grain" and Vice President of Grain for Citizens, LLC. 

Women at Agrible in sustainable agriculture

Samantha Horvath, Director of Research and Development at Agrible. 
Jessie Prenger-Bhalerao, Agricultural Engineer at Agrible. 
Amy Betzelberger, Plant Biologist / Science Liason at Agrible.
Joy Barranis, Front-End Web Developer at Agrible. 
Nancy Dankle, Marketing Manager at Agrible.
Nicole Goad, Sales Account Manager at Agrible, with a background in growing, crop scouting, and ag sales. 
Chandler Bruns, Agrible intern and undergrad in Agriculture Leadership Education at UIUC College of ACES.