Working in agriculture is like no other profession on earth. It’s one of the oldest continually practiced jobs in existence, and for a good reason: it’s absolutely critical if we’re going to provide enough food for stationary humans to continue living and being stationary. Yes, without agriculture, nomadic lifestyles could still result in adequate sustenance, but the majority of people on the planet right now are happy having a semi-permanent home base.
Despite how vital this field of work is, it can sometimes seem like the whole world is against farmers. Their jobs are made incredibly difficult by regulations, large corporate farming businesses, the infiltration of problematic seeds into the marketplace, the excess estrogen and xenoestrogens being released daily into the environment from all sorts of nasty sources, pollutants, climate change altering rainfall levels, soil erosion, etc.
Suddenly, this ancient profession is on the frontlines of many world issues pertaining to health, environmentalism, and wellness. The following will attempt to lighten the load a little by presenting some tips and advice that can help make things easier on farmers.
Soil Remediation Projects
The state of the world’s soil is getting dangerously close to what many would call an emergency. Fertile soil is being lost at a rate of around 23 billion tons per year for a number of reasons, and no one is being hit harder than farmers. Soil remediation or soil washing are the names for the processes by which we can remove contaminants from the soil. There are countless examples of communities stepping up to the plate and participating in soil remediation projects. The department of energy’s office of environmental management spearheads lots of these processes as well. It is quite possible that you will be able to get funding or other forms of support if you present the need for remediation to community groups and organizations. At the bare minimum, be sure you’re sharing information with organizations about the state of the soil where you’re working. This information can be stored in large databases and be used on governmental levels to lobby for assistance and clean-up programs.
Stop Tilling your Soil
Conventional tilling practices do intense damage to the soil by preventing the build-up of organic matter, which encourages soil fertility and removing plant matter that covers soil resulting in bare soil, which is far more likely to be eroded and far worse at absorbing water and nutrients, meaning it actually results in lower yields. It also kills millions of microbes and insects that are crucial parts of a healthy soil biome. Couple all of this with the fact that tilling is expensive and time-consuming, and suddenly you’re looking at a pretty simple solution: stop tilling.
Add Some Cover Crops
Cover crops are crops that you plant in your field in addition to your cash crops. They’re crops that work well with the species of crop you are already growing and help them continue to thrive by improving the soil structure, water infiltration, organic matter, and soil fertility. They also help reduce erosion, pests, and disease. Long before we had herbicides on the scale that we have them today, cover crops were used to keep plants healthy and happy and increase yields. The cash crop trend is growing rapidly right now as more and more agricultural professionals turn to natural, easy ways of protecting their crops and soil.
Make Use Of Predictive Tools
Artificial intelligence is getting pretty impressive. In particular, AIs’ ability to help farmers predict outcomes by estimating rainfall levels (which are about to change due to the warming of the climate), weather patterns, and yields. Tools such as a corn profit per acre calculator can help farmers set expectations and mitigate risks for bad years. They can also let you know well ahead of time if something needs to change.
Explore Direct Marketing Options
Given how connected everyone is with the internet and various other digital forms of communication, it’s now easier than ever for farmers to skip the step of dealing with intervening distributors and retailers and get their goods straight to consumers. This results in farmers keeping a much bigger percentage of their profits. On the other end, from the consumer’s perspective, people are getting freaked out by the horrible things they’re learning about their food and how it gets to them. People all over the country are signing up for an entire season’s worth of vegetables, paying for them upfront, and driving to a previously agreed upon location to pick up a box once per week.
Rotate Nitrogen-Producing Legumes
Crop rotation has been a trendy farming topic for a while now, but specifically, including plants that increase nitrogen levels in the soil like peas, beans, and alfalfa can help take care of your crops well into the future. Whatever you plan in their place after your next rotation will be able to benefit from the rich, fertile soil left behind.
Find And Use Heirloom Seeds
Heirloom seeds are the ones that have been passed down from one generation to the next, harvested and saved and grown and harvested again. Heirloom seeds are seeds that grow highly valued crops. These crops might be of value because of their flavor, heartiness, or other positive traits. The reason heirloom seeds are so special is not just because someone generations ago thought them worth saving, but because the dominance of a select few commercial vegetables on the market has made alternatives and healthy varieties less common. Since we know now that greater diversity in what we plant produces richer soil which in turn improves our crop yield, heirloom seeds are an excellent way to take care of all your crops.
The above information should give you a few ideas of things you can do to help keep your soil and crops thriving for years to come. Taking care of the soil now saves you countless hours of work in the future; it also produces high-yield, healthy crops in the present. As farmers around the world begin to question and challenge some of the corporate, conventional models of agriculture that began to dominate the world in the 1950s, their workload can be lessened, the soil can be kept safe, and consumers can be eating healthy crops.