STEWARDSHIP OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Farmers rely on natural resources – land, water, clean air, and sunlight – to make a living and produce the food that consumers all around the world depend on. In this way, farmers are uniquely close to the environment, and it is in their best interest to protect it. Sustainable farming practices can improve soil health, protect water resources, increase wildlife biodiversity, and even fight climate change – protecting the land, environments, and our food system for future generations.
Types of Conservation Agriculture
Crop Rotation: Farmers often plant different crops in their fields in alternating seasons, benefiting soil health and reducing pressure from pests, diseases, and weeds.
Reduced Tillage: Many farmers use no-till or minimum-till practices, meaning that they avoid turning over or plowing their soils. This practice can help increase soil fertility, reduce erosion, and increase soil’s ability to store water.
Cover Crops: Often used in conjunction with reduced tillage, cover crops are planted to cover the soil during winter or off-season growing months. Cover crops, which often include grasses or legumes like alfalfa or clover, help protect soil fertility, lock in moisture, and prevent erosion.
Rotational Grazing: Livestock farmers use rotational grazing to increase forage yields on their pasture, benefiting both farm businesses and the environment. This practice involves allowing livestock to graze on only one portion of pasture at a time, while other areas “rest” – enabling plants to regrow and deepen their root systems and benefiting wildlife habitats.
Precision Agriculture: Today’s farmers use many technologies to increase productivity while also using fewer inputs such as fuel, fertilizer, and products to control weeds, insects, and other pests. Precision agriculture technology can include satellites, remote sensing, soil sampling, and computerized tractors and other equipment to make sure fields receive only the exact amount of inputs needed, and nothing more.
Water and Environmental Management: Many farmers plant strips of trees and grasses around their fields to serve as a buffer between farmland and surrounding waterways or natural environments. These strips can help protect waterways by preventing field runoff and soil erosion. In addition, they also serve as habitats for native plants and wildlife.