Small Hacks for Farmers to Instill More Eco-Friendly Practices Farmers Have The Power To Heal the Planet

Finding a way to provide the world with food in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner is everyone’s goal.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to find ways to provide the world with food while protecting the environment. Technology has improved our lives and made it easier to survive, but it has also had a negative impact on the planet’s natural systems. Herbicides and pesticides that increase crop yields also get into the soil, water system and our bodies, causing damage to our health and our habitat.

Hacks for Farmers. Credit: USDA NRCS photo by Ron Nichols, FlickrCC
NRCS Soil Conservationist Garrett Duyck (left), and David Brewer examine a soil sample on the Emerson Dell farm near The Dalles, Oregon.

People want and expect their food and the world to be a healthier place. To accomplish this, we must undo the damage we’ve done and plan for a sustainable future.

As a farmer, there’s no doubt that you already do some things on your land to be eco-friendly and sustainable, but there are still a few hacks you can instill to be even more successful.

  1. Maintain Soil Health

To have healthy, abundant crops, it’s important to plant them in soil that has the nutrients they need to grow. If you don’t rotate crops and only plant the same crop year after year on the same plot of land, no doubt you are depleting the soil of significant nutrients. You are also contributing to land degradation, which has a detrimental impact on the environment.

Ways to maintain soil health and replenish soil nutrients include using organic compost, which can be tilled into the soil, and rotating crops. Different plants require different nutrients, so rotating crops will keep certain nutrients in the soil that the crop doesn’t need, allowing the nutrients to replenish over time.

  1. Try Sustainable Pest Management

Traditionally in agriculture, when it comes to ridding crops of insects or weeds, pesticides and herbicides are used. In some cases, they are used improperly, which impacts the environment and, in turn, humanity. Adopting a sustainable integrated pest management (IPM) plan will reduce the amount of chemicals used on crops so that the world and humans can be healthier.

Implementing an IPM doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does involve some work. To begin, you’ll need to determine what kinds of pests you have, what is an acceptable level or threshold of these pests in your field (because, unfortunately, you can’t get rid of them all), and what you can do to control the pests if they exceed the threshold levels.

The types of crops you grow will determine what kinds of pests you will attract. Through inspections, monitoring and reporting, you’ll be able to decide the best ways to maintain and control pest levels using as little chemicals as possible.

  1. Consider Biodiversity

Soil health isn’t the only issue you can have if you only grow one crop year after year. You can also run into different pest problems from doing this. Planting different plants in the same field (intercropping) or close to one another will allow the crops to share nitrogen more effectively, reducing the amount of fertilizer and other chemicals needed to rid the fields of pests.

There are also other benefits to intercropping too, including better yields, which leads to better income, and less crop damage, among others. This practice is also sustainable and improves the health of the soil and the environment.

  1. Use Water Wisely

It’s no secret that crops need water to grow, but there’s only a finite amount of water on this planet that can actually be used by humans and crops. To ensure that this valuable resource isn’t squandered, we have to be smart with its use. As a farmer, some things you can do to make water more sustainable is to collect it during the rainy season and use it when the weather gets hot and dry.

After the water has been collected, it needs to be stored for later use. This often can be done using cisterns, tanks or silos. Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, you can buy an incredibly fancy system or one that is more budget friendly. In either case, collecting water is an eco-friendly practice to have on your farm.

The need for food will only increase in the future as the human population grows. To ensure that crops are fruitful but the planet and environment aren’t being destroyed, it’s important to find sustainable and eco-friendly ways to farm. Little changes can go a long way, and they’re worth exploring to save the world.

Animal Rights National Conference 2018