Did you know that over half of the earth’s arable land is used for agriculture? Well, it is, and farmers use a lot of the earth’s space to feed us. Their relationship between agriculture and environment and sustainability is more significant than you think.
Those involved in agriculture and land management jobs have worked hard to increase their profits while being kinder to the land. Innovations such as no-till, low till farming do not disturb the land as much as traditional farming does. Nor does it leach all the nutrients from the soil, which leads to lower fertilizer use for crops.
Because the land is not tilled or just lightly tilled, there is less erosion, and because there is less erosion, fewer nutrients leach from the soil. The soil also tends to stay in place because it is less disturbed. This practice helps with erosion.
Soil erosion, unabated, can cause the demise of entire cities in the event of flooding. Planned agriculture and land development can help prevent erosion by deciding how and where crops are planted, and water is directed.
An added benefit of no-till farming is that it uses less water. All farmers are concerned about water, where they will get it, and how they will use it. Planning agricultural sites and how the land and water will be managed, prior to development. Why agriculture is important for our environment can mean more environmentally sound farming that is more sustainable and profitable.
Farming today is as much about science as it is tractors and heavy equipment. Australia’s farmer’s use of technology and modern farming techniques have led to higher productivity, crop yield, environmental safety, efficiency, and safety.
The collection of soil and water data has led to better control of water and fertilizer usage, giving farmers a better idea of what is going on with their land. Early detection of soil or water issues can help them prepare for contingencies. And as we all know, a farmer needs every aid available when pitting themselves against the elements and their vagaries.
Today’s tractors have guidance systems that can give them finite parameters for where they are to go. This ability offers farmers a great deal of control over where their crops will be planted and how much area they till. Using GPS to guide the tractor and limiting crops to certain areas saves fuel and keeps farmers in more control of their land and crops.
Crop rotation has been used since the beginning of recorded time because even the ancients understood that certain plants required certain nutrients from the soil. Thus, crop rotation allows the soil to recover from the uptake of minerals of a particular crop. Letting plants go wild, on occasion, can help fields rejuvenate and allow nutrients to replenish with little help from man.
Why agriculture is important for our environment has led to no-till wheat crops planted alternately with canola, which has shown they produce higher yields of wheat. This practice is a prime example of where crop rotation is beneficial to the soil, the farmer, and the environment.
Cover crops are used to minimize nutrient loss from the soil while increasing the level of organic matter. Crops such as clover and hairy vetch can increase nitrogen in the ground, while other crops, like wheat, fix carbon in the soil.
By using this method of land management, farmers can decrease the use of commercial fertilizers on their crops. Overuse of fertilizer can be harmful to the environment when applied at high levels.
Yes, pests can be managed, and many farmers use beneficial pests to control those that are bad for the crops. By creating habitats for these helpful bugs, farmers do not need to rely as heavily on pesticides.
Another natural form of pest control is companion planting. By introducing plants that insects do not like, with those they do like, farmers can limit the number of bugs that attack their plants.
Biofuels can be made from the waste of vegetative matter. Plants like sugar cane work immensely well at making biofuel due to its high sugar content.
Producing biofuel is just one more of the many ways that farmers work toward protecting our environment by being good stewards of the land.