That’s not surprising when you consider the situation: Farmers need healthy and robust land to continue to make a living now and into the future. Farmers live where they work, so they drink the water, breathe the air and eat the food raised there. They have a very personal stake in keeping our environment healthy.
Making Use of modern farming practices
Using a global positioning system (GPS) farmers are able to evaluate their acreage right down to the square foot. This allows them to pinpoint areas where fertilizers and other inputs need to be applied. This makes sense both environmentally and economically: by applying only what is necessary, farmers can keep run-off to a minimum, and, becasue crop inputs are expensive, their bottom line gets a boost as well.
Saving The Soil
With conservation tillage, farmers leave crop residue on their fields. Planting requires only a small furrow for the seeds, which grow right around the residue. This simple practice allows the old roots to hold the soil in place. Studies have shown that leaving 30% residue on top of the soil can decrease erosion by 50%.
Instead of wheels, some new tractors have treads much like a snowmobile track. This distributes the vehicles weight over a greater area, so the soil doesn’t compact as much. Less compacted soil can absorb more water, thereby reducing runoff.
Terracing works with the topography of the land instead of against it. By planting in terraces, farmers can slow down the movement of water and divert it from more sensitive areas of the field. This reduces soil erosion and runoff.
Crop rotation also keeps soil healthy. For example, farmers alternate between crops of corn and soybeans in some fields. This allows the land to replenish vital nutrients needed to continuing growing crops for years to come.
Farmers often plant ‘windbreaks’ or ‘shelterbelts’ on their land to reduce erosion. These lines of trees provide shelter for many forms of wildlife.
Leaving crop residue provides food and shelter for wildlife as well. In fact, studies show that farmers and ranchers provide food and habitat for 75% of our wildlife.