Boots on the Ground – Farmer Sustainability Stories

Viewpoints / Focus on Agriculture February 20, 2020

Credit: Florida Farm Bureau 

By Cyndie Shearing @CyndieShearing

Today’s farmers and ranchers are at the forefront of climate-smart farming, putting scientific solutions, technology and innovation to work every day to protect land, air and water.

They’re also reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, if you combine all of U.S. agriculture, it accounts for 9% of U.S. emissions, with 91% coming from all other sources, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Farmers and ranchers continue to be stewards of the land by promoting soil health, conserving water, enhancing wildlife, efficiently using nutrients and caring for their animals.

Research shows that farmers are reducing their relatively small footprint through management practices that sequester carbon dioxide, such as no-till farming, planting cover crops and other practices. That’s certainly impressive. But what does implementing sustainable practices on the farm or ranch actually look like? Four farmers share their stories, below.

John Breedlove and Jeff Hackman

John Breedlove and Jeff Hackman are crop farmers in Illinois. Both men explain their focus on conserving water through the use of technology in a video.

“The biggest portion for me is the irrigation” when growing popcorn, seed corn, soybeans and seed beans, Breedlove says. He strives to use water efficiently for crop production, so it will be there for future generations of his family.

Hackman also hopes to leave a lasting farming legacy through careful water conservation. This includes upgrading crop irrigation systems used on the farm to reduce waste. Water conservation is important to Hackman in part because “We want to protect the [other] families that live out here, too,” he says.  

Amanda Freund

Amanda Freund coordinates sales and marketing at CowPots in Connecticut. This family owned business is built around an eco-friendly, biodegradable alternative to plastic waste – CowPots made from cow manure. The pots are used for seed starting or plant transplants, resulting in zero waste. The family’s nearby dairy farm provides a never-ending supply of manure to make the pots.

Amanda Freund   Credit: Freund family photo   

“From our farm fields to your garden beds, our food system and environment depend on building healthy soils that can support a growing population,” Freund explains. “We take nutrients from our sustainable farm to where they’re needed (your garden), replacing non-renewable planting containers like plastic and peat.” 

Michael Archibald  

Michael Archibald, general manager of Deseret Cattle & Timber in Florida, is partnering with researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences on a variety of field tests. 

Michael Archibald   Credit: Florida Farm Bureau   

In a recent timber trial, farm employees found they can roll a heavy chopper over tree stumps and leave them to enrich the soil when clearing the land for pastures. By doing so, they avoid having to dig out and burn tree stumps. This stump-cutting technique, which began as an experiment, is now a routine procedure on the property.

More on Sustainability

Farmers and ranchers continue to be stewards of the land by promoting soil health, conserving water, enhancing wildlife, efficiently using nutrients and caring for their animals. Visit the Farmers for a Sustainable Future website and download a fact sheet to learn more.

Cyndie Shearing is director of internal communications at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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