Aiming to improve soil and water quality

Soil and water are both precious things. We all depend on both of them to survive so it’s important to protect them, but we also need to them maximize our food productivity. That is why farmers and researchers are going the extra mile to properly manage water and efficiently use nutrients on agricultural lands. You see farmers are faced with the challenge of feeding an ever growing population while at the same time protecting the environment from things like erosion and nutrient runoff to maintain the quality of both soil and ground water.

Farmers, scientists and researchers from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa gathered last week in Okoboji to discuss and share their work, ideas and solutions on this very topic. Several professors and researchers shared their studies on practices like saturated buffers, two-stage ditch design, proper nutrient management and organized watershed projects.

“There are a number of outstanding practices and research projects taking place across our states with same goal in mind, protecting the environment,” said SDCGA board director and Chester, SD farmer Keith Alverson. “If there was one message to take away from the meeting it is, ‘We can do better,’ farmers understand that there is a moral obligation to use the best practices available when it comes to caring for the soil and managing the water that comes off of our ground.”

Currently farmers are utilizing practices like buffer strips, cover crops, no-till, precision planting and nutrient application and watershed districts. These practices along with seed biotechnology have drastically improved agriculture’s environmental footprint but much more needs to be done.

In the next 40 years our world’s food demand is expected to increase by 70%. That’s a hefty challenge in front of our producers whom we not only rely upon to meet these increased demands, but we expect them to do so in a way that doesn’t have negative effects on the surrounding and downstream environments. Needless to say our farmers are up for the challenge and they will continue to work with our land-grant university researchers to make sure that it happens.

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