U.S. agriculture: A production in conservation
Agriculture, by definition, is the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock.
The very nature of their business insists that farmers be responsible stewards of the land. For as long as this country has been in existence, they have taken it upon themselves to provide for its people and worked to protect that land in order to provide for future generations.
And while modern day farming and all of its technological advancements has made farmers even more efficient and less intrusive, there is a misperception about agriculture - still perpetrated by some - that projects an entirely different view.
David Craigmile, a corn and soybean farmer from Boyd, Minnesota, and member of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) recently spoke of this misperception. Craigmile's farm, MCGA reported in a recent press release, once operated under the old moldboard plowing system, but switched to chisel-disc conservation tillage that protects the soil from wind and water erosion.
Further, due to new, genetically modified crops, Craigmile no longer has to cultivate the soil several times a year to control weeds. These innovations result in fewer tillage trips across the field, which "reduces soil disturbance, improves water infiltration and saves fuel," something that is good for both profits and the environment, MCGA pointed out.
"Farmers, like everyone, must always balance the tradeoffs between providing for people and protecting nature," Craigmile said.
We've included just a few examples below of how the agricultural industry works to maintain that balance while providing the most abundant, most affordable, and safest food supply in the world:
Nearly 46 percent of land in the United States is farm or ranch land, and agricultural land provides habitat for 75 percent of the nation's wildlife.
Precision farming practices boost crop yields and reduce waste by using satellite mapping and computers to match seed, fertilizer, and crop protection applications to local soil conditions.
Domestic, renewable, plant-based fuels have a smaller environmental footprint and a larger net energy gain than petroleum-based fuels and increase our nation's economic and energy security.
Since the early 1930s, federal farm programs have contained provisions that help farmers protect wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas.
Farmers grow five times as much corn today as they did 80 years ago. And they do it on 20 percent less land.
As the call to conserve continues to grow , farmers implement more tech innovation and are able to expand upon new, more efficient practices.
"According to a Conservation Technology Information Center survey," MCGA reported, "Minnesota corn growers planted about 3 million acres with conservation tillage last year."
"Buffer strips, wetland restoration, conservation tillage and high yielding crops are helping to achieve the desired outcome of protecting water resources," they added.
With so many of us living in urban areas, removed from the farm, wouldn't we rather put our land and the future of this country in the hands of those who are called to cultivate it responsibly? Farmers have more than just a business relationship with the land - it's also their heritage and their legacy. They take their responsibility to leave their farms to the next generation in a healthy and productive condition, and we would be wise to allow them the ability to do so.
See more on the "conservation conversation" here.