American farmers and ranchers are the most efficient producers in the world. They have established this feat by their unbridled optimism and hard work, but also credit is due to technology.
Developments in technology have allowed farmers to increase accuracy of planting times, seed placement depths, application of fertilizer and pest protection by the inch. Farmers and ranchers are also able to keep the environment of their livestock barns and facilities at the optimum temperature where the animals are happiest. However, farmers and ranchers are not just taking care of their crops and livestock, they are also taking care of the land which allows them to continue their way of life.
Farmers and ranchers depend on the land for their way of life...
Farmers protect water sources by creating buffer strips along streams; fencing livestock out of streams and ponds; storing manure, fertilizers, fuel and pesticides properly; and upgrading wells.
Soil erosion in the U.S. has dropped by over 40 percent over the last 20 years, and seven major conservation practices used on farms and ranchers (terraces, grassed waterways, contour farming, contour strip-cropping, no-till, mulch-till and CRP) are estimated to remove up to 38 percent of total nitrogen and 58 percent of the phosphorus that otherwise would be present in our water.
In days gone by, farmers would work their soil‚ “tilling” every spring and fall in order to control weeds and prepare the fields for planting crops. Today, many farmers till less frequently, if at all, to reduce soil erosion and soil compaction. Less tillage also preserves natural organic matter and promotes a habitat for earthworms and other soil-dwelling creatures. There are other “green” benefits, as well. Less tillage also means that farmers use less fuel, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Nutrient Management
Like humans, plants need nutrients to grow. When a crop is harvested from a field, some of the nutrients from the soil are also removed. Farmers must replace these lost nutrients by adding fertilizers each year to keep their soil productive and healthy.
Farmers analyze their soils to determine precisely which nutrients need to be added, and in what amount. Over time, these test results create a “nutrient management plan” — a strategy to ensure that only those nutrients which are required are added back to the soil, eliminating any possibility of soil contamination or water pollution.
Even with the best management, sometimes problems do occur. If this occurs, farmers may utilize pesticides, herbicides or other remedies after all other methods of control have been considered. Livestock manure is used as a valuable, organic fertilizer for crops.
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Also check out these great resources for more on how farmers and ranchers are protecting the Earth we share every day!