Conservation demonstrates healthy benefits to farmers, environment

By Kayla Bergman

Investing in soil health on the farm through implementation of conservation practices helps build resiliency in the face of our changing climate. These investments can range from in-field management practices to retiring marginal land in perennials or wetlands.

Across the nation, farmers and ranchers are finding that a key component to building a brighter future for rural America lies beneath our feet. Focusing on soil health when making management decisions can not only benefit a farmer’s operation, but has implications beyond their farm.

In order to improve soil health and sequester carbon, farmers across the nation are implementing practices, such as no-till, cover crops, extended rotation, prairie strips and buffers, forest buffers, wetlands, and retiring land to prairie or grasslands.

Many are using cost-share payments from their state and from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as carbon sequestration payments, to finance these conservation investments.

In doing so, they have seen many benefits, such as a reduced need for added nutrients and pesticides, increased soil structure, increased water holding capacity, and a decrease in soil erosion. But, the benefits aren’t only seen on the farm.

When farmers are focused on building resiliency through soil health, water quality, wildlife and pollinator habitats, and their community improve. Investments in soil health are creating more resilient agricultural systems in the face of our changing climate.

Bergman is senior policy associate, Center for Rural Affairs a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.

Conservation demonstrates healthy benefits to farmers, environment