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Earth Day personal to farmers

Mary Mertz

By A Contributor

How much do you appreciate the earth? Whether you believe our world to be 4 billion years old or less than 10,000 years, we live together on a planet full of beauty and resources that sustain us. As our population continues to increase at exponentially alarming rates, concern turns to how prepared we are to face the future.

Water, food and fuel are resources that we can’t afford to ignore. Keeping our supply adequate will continue to be challenging.

Earth Day is April 22. Since 1970 our nation has paused on this day to pay tribute as well as to make amends to Mother Earth. The environmental move-ment brought a conscien-tiousness that changed how we see the world and how we live in it, making us more apt to take responsibility for our actions that lead to pollution and deplete our world’s natural elements. The battle cry was sounded — recycle, reuse, reduce — and we took it to heart.

How do farmers view Earth Day? Not surprisingly, through a mud-spattered and magnified lens. Farmers view Earth Day close up and personal. When your livelihood depends upon land and the availability of water, trying to be good stewards is in your best interest each and every day.

So what has the agricultural community done to improve practices in light of environ-mental issues? 

Technology has assisted farm-ers to do precision monitoring of their fields, which helps to reduce the use of fertilizer and chemicals. By using GPS sys-tems, they can achieve a more accurate portrait of their land at any and all geographic points.

Biotechnology has helped to reduce the use of herbicides while increasing crop yields. Farmers today are able to grow more grain without the need for more land. 

Farm machinery has become more fuel efficient. Where there was a time we would have had to plow the ground and then disc it once or twice, additionally running the harrow to prepare the seed bed, today we make fewer passes through the fields. The hours and iron invested per acre are tremendously less, as is the erosion of soil.

Finally, switching to no-tillage (no plowing) practices has helped to maintain better soil composition. Crops are planted and weeds are controlled with-out turning the ground, thus maintaining more of the nutrient rich matter that exists naturally. One of the benefits of no-till is that we are retaining the carbon within the soil instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.

Advancements made in how we farm today as compared to 1970 have been significant. More improvements will come as we continually strive to become as efficient as possible. 

Earth Day arrives with forsythias and redbuds in bloom, vegetable gardens being sown and lengthen-ing days that warm our spirits. We share this home we call Earth and have a responsibility to do what we can to leave it in a healthy condition for future genera-tions.

  Whether it is planting a tree, refraining from littering or hauling your glass to the recycling center, we can play a part in ecology. After all, don’t we want our children’s children to be able to relate to the words of that great Louis Armstrong song “What a Wonderful World.”

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