The short answer? YES! Caring for the environment is an essential part of a farmer’s job, and is a responsibility not taken lightly. A commitment to tend to land, water, and environmental resources is often instilled in a farmer from a very young age, as he or she follows around older generations on the farm. But why do farmers care so much? I’ve put together a list of three main reasons why farmers care for the environment below.
1. Protecting land and water resources is crucial for farm families to do their job.
Good soil health is needed to grow fruits, vegetables, and crops; while a clean water supply is needed for farm animals to drink. A commitment to land, water, and energy usage is top of mind for today’s farmers because these resources are required for their livelihood to continue.
In order to contribute to a sustainable food system, farmers are continually innovating and looking for their next method of improvement. Programs such as The Discovery Farms®, part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, conduct continual research to find solutions and monitor progress on working farms across our state’s diverse landscape. Currently, they are working with more than 40 farmers in Wisconsin on water quality monitoring and nitrogen use efficiency. Their program, supported by the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin for the past ten years, looks to find innovative solutions to safeguard our environmental resources.
2. Farmers want to ensure their environmental resources are viable for future generations.
For centuries, farmers have been caring for the land, the water, and their environmental resources. In order for these traditions to continue, today’s producers must continue to look after their resources just as generations of farmers before them have. Minimizing their impact
on the environment is not only important for today, but is essential for tomorrow when farmers look to pass their life’s work on to the next generation.
One way farmers are protecting their land and the topsoil in their fields is by planting cover crops. A cover crop, much like the name implies, covers all of the exposed soil in a field. There are many benefits of planting a cover crop, one of which is to help with erosion control and water runoff. Examples of crops that may be used as a cover crop include oats, rye, clover, or even radishes (pictured in the photo) !
3. Caring for all things that grow is instilled in a farmer’s way of life.
Why does a farmer love being a farmer? Farmers across the state share that they love the land, their animals, and the excitement of a new growing season each year. There is something special about planting a seed and watching it grow into a corn stalk standing above eye-level; this is only possible with healthy soil, a sufficient water supply, and careful land management.
Farms of all sizes and production methods are taking steps to protect their environmental resources; and it’s working. Since 2007, United States dairy farmers have reduced their carbon footprint nearly 25 percent. According to Dairy Management, Inc., each gallon of milk produced today requires 90 percent less land and 65 percent less water than it did almost 70 years ago. Farm families all across our state are committed to improving their practices to do more with fewer resources.
To learn more about sustainability initiatives of Wisconsin dairy farm families, visit www.wisconsindairy.org/Our-Farms/Sustainability.