Since the first Earth Day 40 years ago, our planet has seen a tremendous shift in favor of preserving our environment. And because much of the credit goes to our nation’s farmers, the National Corn Growers Association would like to acknowledge these contributions and increase grower awareness of the sustainability of their own operations.
“It only makes sense that growers would work to preserve land, water and air,” said NCGA President Darrin Ihnen, a family farmer in Hurley, S.D. “We need to conserve these resources for the survival of our farms, which most of us have passed from generation to generation.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, today’s farmers produce 70 percent more corn per pound of nutrients than they did in the 1970s. Farmers are able to use less fertilizer because new high-tech equipment puts fertilizer directly over the plants’ roots instead of spreading it on the whole field, and in-seed technologies are constantly improving corn’s fertilizer-use efficiency.
In a study last year from Field to Market, the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, it was reported that, from 1987 to 2007, producing a bushel of corn has seen a 69 percent decrease in soil loss, 37 percent decrease in land and energy use, 30 percent decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions and 27 percent decrease in water application. And each year, reduced tillage methods save 3.5 gallons of fuel per acre of cropland.
This Earth Day, April 22, farmers have a good tool to help them discover even more environmental efficiencies. Developed by Field to Market, the Fieldprint Calculator helps farmers assess the efficiency of their operations and improve their management of natural resources. For more information, visit http://www.fieldtomarket.org.