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Posts Tagged With: conventional

Do Conventional Farmers Use Environmentally Friendly Practices?

Today is Earth Day which seems like the perfect time to answer a question I hear a lot.  Do conventional farmers use environmentally friendly farming practices?

Many people equate “environmentally sustainable” with “organic.”  I’m sure this is largely true, but organic is more about how you grow the plants than how you take care of the land.

But I’d rather not get out the boxing gloves with organic.  Instead I want to answer the question; what do conventional farmers do to take care of the land?

Actually, they do a lot.

DSC_0276

Here’s a photo I snapped of Daddy’s tractor planting corn.  You can see the green of our cover crop, which, sadly, was supposed to be wheat.  And while the failure of our second wheat crop is disappointing, the nice thing here is that you can see the fresh marks of the corn planter clearly in the green.

Many people think of organic farmers as being more environmentally friendly.  What about conventionally grown food?  {DaddysTractor.com}

The red arrow shows the marks from where the planter has just put seeds.  The yellow arrow shows the odd shape of untouched wheat grass between the planter rows.

Why in the world would we do that?

Well, it’s environmentally friendly.  Our land is hilly, so to keep soil from washing into streams we use terraces to keep the soil where it belongs.  Terraces are an awkward shape and they cut an otherwise rectangular field into weird shapes as well.  Farmers have to plant and harvest on one side of the terrace at a time.  We start planting by tracing the outline of the field (end rows) and then we trace both sides of the terraces.  Finally we finish planting by filling in those blank spaces the yellow arrow points out.

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor! {DaddysTractor.com}

The use of technology is also a major part of being a good steward.  The GPS monitor shows us exactly where the tractor has planted and what little triangle somewhere as been forgotten.  The planter also uses a pretty impressive system that shuts off each row individually as it drives over ground that has already been planted.  That saves us lots of seed, as well as confusion when it’s time to harvest double planted ground.

Planting with terraces is a pain.  However, protecting streams and our water supply is important to us (we drink water too) and it’s beneficial because soil that washes away is our best top soil.  Those are two big reasons you’ll find conventional farmers practicing soil conservation!

Here are other posts that describe why it’s always Earth Day on a farm.

Farm Ugly! How farmers are taking care of the land. {DaddysTractor.com}

1.) Farming Ugly!  Cover crops help prevent soil erosion, control weeds naturally, and enrich soil.

Farmers taking care of the land {daddystractor.com}

2.) Terraces and no-till, best practices on our farm.

Another way farmers are taking care of the land. {DaddysTractor.com}

3.) Another farmer planting hay on terraces and waterways.

If you’re a farmer, what other practices do you use?  If you’re not, what questions do you have?

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Categories: Agvocacy, Farming | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Resolve to Learn about Your Food in the New Year

The New Year is a great time to set goals for yourself and if being healthier isn’t something you need to work on, well, that would make you pretty awesome.  For the rest of us, and yeah, that’s me and my family, learning about your food can seem like an overwhelming task.  So I’ll be taking the month of January to break down some of the major concerns about the food you eat.  No diet plan, no supplements to buy, just straight-forward knowledge.

I’m ready to go with posts about:

Before we jump off the deep end, lets stick our toes in with a few facts.

I write about me, my farm, my family.  Every farmer has his own story.

Regardless of how different they may be, 97% of of the farms in the US are owned by families.  Corporations own just 3%.  We are men, women, American Indian, Hispanic, Latino, African American, big, small, organic, conventional, livestock, crop, first generation, fifth generation, moms, dads, children, and grandchildren.

Nothing I could ever write would encompass us all.  What works on my farm won’t help my neighbor.  What is true for my family isn’t the same for a potato grower in Idaho.  And for all the thousands of farmers holding to good old American values there are those who don’t.  But that’s not farmers, that’s people.

In fact I can only think of two things we have in common.  The first is that there are just over 3 million of us in the US.  That’s 2% of the population.  We are a minority.

The second is that we eat.  We eat the food we grow.  We feed it to our children.  The choices we make on our farms are important to us, just like they are to you.

Because there aren’t many of us you might not know a farmer.  Maybe you haven’t been on a farm since you were a kid, or maybe never at all.  There is a 98% chance your family doesn’t grow the food we eat.

My goal is to share what we do and to help you make choices about the food you buy.  I want to show you the decisions we make and why we make them.  And no more than I can tell my neighbor what is best for his farm, I’m not here to tell you what is best for your family.

But knowledge is power.  So resolve to learn about your food in the new year.

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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