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John Deere has added another shade of "green" to its lineup of green agricultural implements. The company launched the "Running Green" environmental Web site last fall as a special section within its Web site.

"The way we look at it, if any company is 'green,' it's us. Green is our brand color and Running Green is a play on our 'Nothing Runs Like a Deere' slogan," says Robert W. Lane, chairman and CEO, Deere & Company, Moline, Ill. "We have a vested interest in striking a healthy balance with nature. I firmly believe John Deere can make its biggest contribution to sustainability by growing our business while simultaneously protecting the health and safety of the environment, our employees and customers."

Deere & Company plans to reach those goals by promoting sound environmental stewardship and the concept of sustainable growth through the Running Green site, explains John Gerstner, Deere & Company manager, corporate environmental and safety communications.

"We want to gain a higher level of recognition and support - both within the company and with national and international external audiences - for the excellent environmental and safety record of John Deere," he says.

Gerstner believes users of the site will come to view John Deere as a source of education, innovation and inspiration for environmental issues, and allow John Deere to become an authoritative source on such topics as sustainable growth, biomass, precision farming, alternative fuels and biodegradable materials.

"We see the site as an opportunity to allow us to bring environmental considerations to the forefront of all business planning and decision-making, and give us the chance to find ways to take a more aggressive leadership role in the environmental community," Gerstner adds.

Information found on the site is geared for many groups, including employees, dealers, retirees, customers, shareholders, environmentalists and others. The site carries the company's environmental vision, data, historical milestones, environmental innovation news, community projects and links to other environmental sites on topics including ag sustainability, climate change, population, precision farming and rapidly renewable energy.

"Two environmental realities facing our planet are posed in a rather striking way on the front page of Running Green," says Lane. "You can see two electronic counters side-by-side (on the page). The population ticker shows the world's population at 6.1 billion people and rising. Every second, there are three new mouths to feed in the world. Meanwhile, the productive farmland ticker beside it is going in the opposite direction. Nearly two and one-half acres of productive land are lost every 7.67 seconds. Climatic variations, natural disasters and human intervention are ceaselessly at work decreasing the amount of arable farmland, pasture land and forest."

Ultimately, Gerstner says John Deere hopes the Web site will create better understanding about sustainable growth and potential for using commodities and forestry byproducts as alternative energy and manufacturing materials.

"Running Green helps make the connection between good environmental stewardship and meeting the food and energy needs of the planet, and that is good for agriculture," Gerstner explains. "We also want people to know that environmental and safety considerations are a priority, and that John Deere products and operations aspire to achieve world class standards of environmental and safety performance."

Gerstner says the company will use the site as a selling point with some customers. "Running Green is a visible sign that the company is seriously interested in preserving the environment and that we are aligned with our customers in promoting good environmental stewardship," he says. "We can direct users to specific products that incorporate environmental or safety aspects."

Success of the site is monitored via site traffic and feedback, adds Gerstner. A site intercept survey also exists on the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Annual Report on the Running Green site.

"We believe we have a unique provide our customers with better and smarter equipment and technology that allows the fullest productivity from the Earth's resources, while assuring the same bountiful harvest for future generations," says Lane. "We believe that continually shrinking our environmental footprint is not only the right thing to do, it's the right way to generate real business value..."

The Running Green site can be accessed on the Internet at AM

Barb Baylor Anderson is a freelance writer from Edwardsville, Ill., who covers a wide variety of ag issues.

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