There is so much criticism towards farmers for polluting the air, the type of crops they are growing, and for raising their crops a certain way, that the positive things farmers do go unrecognized. Farmers are not out to destroy the land. We take pride in our American soil and the environment it belongs to. The better we treat our soil, environment and the resources we use to grow a crop, the longer we will be able to farm and produce productive yields. The better we are at conserving our natural resources and maintaining soil health, the longer we stay in business.
There is no “one size fits all” for farming operations. Different regions of our country require different practices due to the environmental growing conditions. We all may drive similar equipment in our fields, but the way in which we do it can be different. In Texas, our farm is doing some things that benefit the environment that you may not realize.
Here are three environmental benefits of farming that you probably didn’t realize:
1. Practicing No-till or Strip-Till
Something that we have learned over time in our region of Texas is that plowing the fields with a traditional disc plow can cause the soil to lose moisture. Because we are in a drought stricken region of Texas, we have found that by practicing no-till or strip-till, we are able to preserve soil moisture and soil nutrients. No-till farming is a way of growing crops without disturbing the soil through tillage. Strip-Till farming is a method of using minimal tillage while retaining crop residue on the soil surface. These methods are beneficial to reduce fuel usage, soil erosion, increase soil moisture retention, and provide the potential for improving soil structure.
2. Water Conservation
Many farmers have to use an additional water source to supplement what Mother Nature may not bring to raise a good yielding crop. In parts of Texas and across seven other states, farmers utilize the Ogallala Aquifer as a water source to water their crops. Using a water source like this requires extreme water management in order to preserve the water supply for years to come. To do this, we have calculated by sprinkler the type of nozzles and the length of the hoses we need to use for a specific crop to prevent the least amount of evaporation. We also have a 24/7 monitoring system that immediately alerts our maintenance crew of any breakdown, so they can fix it to prevent excessive water use. Being on top of our water management systems not only conserves natural resources but also makes our operational costs more efficient.
3. Environmental Certification
Many farmers across the United States, including our farm, have become environmentally certified through a third party auditor. This is a step that goes above and beyond, giving the consumer peace of mind about a farmer’s socially responsible practices. Environmental assessments and audits are based on accepted industry standards and best management practices that ensure the farmer is operating in the most economically viable and environmentally beneficial way.
There is always room for improvement in any farm operation. We are always improving our farm operations and trying to make it as efficient as possible. The more efficient we are with our resources, the more it means to the environment and our bottom line. It’s a win-win!