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Food & Agriculture

Protecting resources to feed a hungry world

Economic Development

Finding where sustainability meets local economic opportunity

Climate Resilience

Mitigating and adapting to global warming

Conservation agriculture practices can help farmers limit soil loss, conserve water, reduce runoff, enhance biodiversity, and more. Yet every farmer faces tough questions. How will it work on my farm? Will it impact my yields? What will it to do my bottom line? Four new Datu case studies use partial budget analysis to document the numbers and the context behind them. The farmers share decisions they made and why, effects on their income and yields, and lessons they learned for further improving their bottom line.

To view all four case studies, please click here.

Clients and Funders
NACD, Walton Family Foundation, USDA-NRCS
Cuba’s changing relationship with the United States is likely to create economic opportunities as well as environmental challenges. Cuba’s government has expressed its commitment to increasing agricultural production in a sustainable manner, yet the challenges associated with doing so are significant. Environmental Defense Fund commissioned Datu to help it assess options for Cuba to boost agricultural production while meeting the island’s own environmental, social and economic objectives.
Clients and Funders
Environmental Defense Fund
Besides other farmers, who do farmers count on for farm management information and advice? Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) are trusted “go to” sources, along with the agricultural retailers where they work. As farmer interest in cover crops grows, are CCAs and ag retailers willing and prepared to provide much-needed cover crop supplies and services? In partnership with the Soil Health Institute and with support from the Walton Family Foundation, Datu is conducting a survey, focus groups, and interviews to learn about the barriers and needs of this influential industry.
Clients and Funders
Soil Health Institute, Walton Family Foundation
Building on our 2014 study, The Emerging U.S. Methane Mitigation Industry, this report focuses on the growing field of firms that provide Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) services to oil and gas operators. We collected primary data from 60 LDAR firms providing services in 45 states. Most are small businesses, many established within the last six years. These represent home-grown jobs that pay well, offer upward mobility, and cannot be off-shored. The industry anticipates future growth and hiring, although the rate of growth will depend on the extent of new methane rules at the federal and state levels.
Clients and Funders
Environmental Defense Fund
Consumer demand for shrimp has ballooned in recent years, yet Louisiana shrimpers are struggling to make a living in a profession in which their parents and grandparents thrived. One reason is price: at dockside, shrimpers can receive as little as one-fourth the price that shrimp are sold for in restaurants. How can shrimpers capture more of this value? Datu performed an extensive analysis of price data and interviewed key players in the supply chain. The resulting recommendations for shrimpers include marketing their product directly to consumers and high-end restaurants.
Clients and Funders
Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, National Wildlife Federation
Facing stormwater challenges and flooding caused by extreme weather, cities increasingly see the value of “green infrastructure.” This includes natural systems and engineered systems that mimic them, such as carefully designed street plantings, restored oyster reefs, or re-constructed coastal wetlands. Datu is pleased to work with Netherlands-based Taedoki to analyze the key nature-based supply chains critical to upcoming resilience strategies in New Orleans and New York City.
Clients and Funders
Client: Taedoki; Funder: The Rockefeller Foundation
The Soil Health Institute is a new private-public partnership that works directly with farmers (organic and conventional), researchers, the USDA and others to improve soil health. The Datu team is pleased to provide the Institute with research-based meeting facilitation and a custom-designed web application for use in identifying and filling priority research gaps.
Clients and Funders
Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
Led by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Farm Foundation, the Soil Renaissance is an international effort to make soil health the cornerstone of land use management decisions. Datu is pleased to provide meeting facilitation and qualitative research to this multi-year collaboration involving academic researchers, industry, government, farmers, and ranchers.
Clients and Funders
Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
Agricultural research shows the soil health benefits of cover cropping, crop rotation, and reduced or eliminated tillage. These practices can succeed in certain soil and climate conditions, but not in others. In collaboration with the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), Datu is performing 3-year case studies, collecting cost and benefit data on soil health practices under a range of local conditions. Findings will be shared with farmers via NACD’s network of 150 Soil Health Champions.
Clients and Funders
National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), U.S. Department of Agriculture, Walton Family Foundation
Conservation agriculture is a powerful way for farmers to protect the nation’s water from harmful nutrient pollution. Three practices—no-till, cover cropping, and crop rotation can reduce soil erosion, build long-term soil health, and protect yields during drought. Datu Research completed a year-long study to find opportunities in farmers’ existing business relationships to make conservation practices a win-win for several key actors along the Iowa corn value chain.
Clients and Funders
National Wildlife Federation, Walton Family Foundation
The Louisiana oyster industry is uniquely valuable and uniquely vulnerable, producing 47 percent of U.S. oyster landings, yet facing several man-made and natural threats to the Gulf of Mexico. Datu’s report on the Louisiana oyster industry includes value chain and market analyses, along with recommendations. This research seeks to help generate strategies for Louisiana oystermen to achieve long-term competitiveness and sustainability.
Clients and Funders
Environmental Defense Fund, Walton Family Foundation

An estimated 1-10% of U.S. natural gas escapes into the atmosphere instead of reaching the end consumer. The resulting methane emissions contribute powerfully to climate change, with each molecule of methane holding 84 times the warming potential of a molecule of carbon dioxide. An emerging industry of U.S. firms manufactures the equipment and services needed to control methane emissions—providing climate protection, creating jobs, and saving the oil and gas industry billions of dollars each year.

Clients and Funders
Environmental Defense Fund
Recent developments in Brazil are quickly complicating the well-studied links between the beef industry and deforestation. Datu conducted an analysis of the shifting landscape, including the rapidly growing role of palm oil, and the potential need for a fresh approach to addressing commodity-driven deforestation.
Clients and Funders
Environmental Defense Fund, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)
Years after international development organizations helped Ugandan villagers create savings-and-loan groups, new groups continued to form on their own. These new, “replicated” groups outnumbered original project groups by 2 to 1. Unlike Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank and other micro-finance institutions, village savings-and-loan groups are completely organized and managed by villagers themselves, with 100% of returns being shared by the members.
Clients and Funders
Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) Associates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
It is widely recognized that tourism plays a vital role in the Gulf Coast economy. Less commonly recognized is that tourism is largely a resource-based industry. The coastal environment of the Gulf of Mexico supports a -billion wildlife tourism industry, engaging 20 million customers annually in recreational fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching.
Clients and Funders
Environmental Defense Fund, Walton Family Foundation