March 2, 2014

Healthy environment good for farming

I recently read an article about the interconnection of agriculture with the natural environment. The fundamental purpose of farming is to use natural systems to convert sunlight into products useful to humans.

Agriculture needs a healthy ecosystem in order to be productive and efficient. Anything that degrades or depletes the ecosystem — the soil, water and biological organisms — will reduce the productivity. Agriculture does present risks to the environment, but conscientious management practices can work to protect and improve the systems that feed us.

Like any man-made activity, agriculture does indeed have effects on the environment; some good, some bad. There may be some disagreement about how our food should be grown, but one thing we should all be able to agree on is that eating is not optional. 

In 1935, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formally the Soil Conservation Service, was the beginning of the federal commitment to conserving natural resources on private lands. During the 1930s, poor agricultural practices and years of drought led to the infamous Dust Bowl period. Hundreds of millions of tons of topsoil were blown from the Southern Plains states.

Following this time, farming techniques such as strip cropping, terracing, crop rotation, contour plowing and cover crops were advocated and farmers were paid to practice soil-conserving farming techniques.

Farmers today are doing more than ever to adapt practices that protect the environment and keep our streams and rivers clean. Many of the government programs that farmer’s benefit from today involve setting aside erodible lands, fencing off streams from livestock and fostering habitat for wildlife.

These programs help us all by creating more green space and buffers between cropland and water sources. NRCS experts work with local farmers and landowners to conserve natural resources in smart, efficient and sustainable ways to create and maintain healthy ecosystems.

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  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Ideas about soil health changing

    New techniques like no-til and cover crops can make soil healthier than conventional tillage, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Flies more than a nuisance

    Control of these pasture and barnyard pests requires the latest information and an integrated approach, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    August 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Owners show off their animals at fair

    It's no easy task to prepare animals for annual show where judges rate livestock on traits according to breed, according to Columnist Peter Hagar.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Making good hay a challenge

    Even with today's technology and weather forecasting, getting in a load of good hay comes with lots of pitfalls, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg New farms take careful planning

    While people start small farm operations for various reasons, it takes plenty of hard work, dedication and information to be successful, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

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    Modern agriculture has been a steady evolution of adaption to changing times, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Warm spring rains bring growth

    But pastures shouldn't just be left alone, they need attention just like other crops, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Conservation programs offered

    No-till drill allows farmers to enhance their soil and promote conservation at the same time, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Watch out for farm machinery

    Accidents on roadways involving farm vehicles can be avoided with a little bit of caution, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo