Yes, even farmers celebrate Earth Day. But the fact is that most don’t simply celebrate one day a year, but instead have a body of work that makes a positive difference every single day. Over the past decades, farmers have taken enormous steps by altering their practices in order to take better care of the soil, protect the environment and increase yields.
What are corn farmers doing?
Using Biotech: 95% of the state’s farmers utilize advanced seed genetics that are more efficient in terms of water and nitrogen while requiring fewer pesticide applications.
Reducing Energy Usage: Energy use per bushel of corn produced has been reduced by 43% since 1980 thanks to precision technology like auto-steer which makes perfect passes through the field, precise fertilizer application only where it’s needed and increased no-till farming.
Adapting to No-Till: According to the South Dakota NRCS, no-till farming practices are on the rise, which benefits overall soil health, building organic matter, reducing runoff and erosion, while conserving water in the field.
Removing Greenhouse Gas: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one acre of corn removes eight tons of harmful greenhouse gas.
Sequestering Carbon: A 25-year study from South Dakota State University has shown that farmland across the state has become carbon sinks, improving the soil’s ability to grow bigger yields.
Planting Trees: South Dakota farmers have planted enough trees to stretch from the state line to Washington, DC!
Generating Clean Energy: The 2012 ag census showed that 703 South Dakota farms are producing renewable energy.
Protecting Water: South Dakota farmers are using cover crops, grass waterways and upland buffers to retain potential excess nutrients before they leave the field, keeping our water safe. In addition, the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council has invested in research on denitrifying bioreactors (wood chip beds at the end of tile lines) which have shown great promise in removing nitrates leaving the field.
The results speak for themselves. Over the past 30 years, corn farmers have:
Cut erosion by 67%
Reduced irrigation by 53%
Decreased land use per bushel by 30%
Lowered energy use per bushel by 43%
Lessened greenhouse gas emissions by 36%
Increased productivity by 101%
*Statistics via Field to Market Report
Increases in sustainability have never been more important or more demanded. Rest assured, you can count on farmers to meet the world’s demands for safe, abundant and affordable supplies of food, feed, fuel and fiber, not only on Earth Day, but every day.