Debra shared with us how she has been implementing sustainable agriculture practices in her farm operations. What are some of things you’re thinking about, or have had success with?
This fall will be my second harvest since I started calling myself a farmer. And the third season since I started making management decisions on the farm. There is certainly no amount of education that can prepare you for the complexities of farming. In 2010, mere months after unexpectedly losing my father, I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture; majoring in Crop Science. Even with a degree as relevant as that, I still feel entirely lost in our operation.
In the last few years we have tried our best to continue to enhance the sustainability of our farm. We have implemented a flexible crop rotation to decrease pest and disease incidence and better utilize the soil through diversity in crop types and seeding dates. We started soil sampling to better understand the nutrient deficiencies of our fields. We have also made crop checking more of a priority so we can detect pests early and utilize chemical rotation strategies to reduce the chance of resistant populations. It may be a few modest steps toward sustainability, but they have been difficult, yet worthwhile steps up a steep learning curve for our family.
Sustainable agriculture is the key to a very challenging future for our world. If farmers are having a hard time transitioning to management practices entirely different than they are accustomed to, I encourage them to start small. Although these are modest steps, they are to a view that is entirely worth the effort.