One of the big, major, super-important, defining factors of success in agriculture is soil. Each farmer has to understand his soils well and know what crops and methods work best in those conditions. With some TLC, an area whose soil is slightly sandy can support a decent corn crop. Got clay? There’s ways to work with that, too.
The simple fact is that farmers need to know the land their crops sit on. They need to know the nature around it, and the human lives that surround it. Many people may not realize this, but farmers actually DO care about the Earth. Their livelihoods depend on it.
To put it plainly, if the Earth dies, if we run out of nutrients and usable ground, the farmers suffer more than anyone.
What bothers me the most, however, is the fact that so many environmental problems are blamed on the very people who need the Earth to thrive. You don’t see anyone pointing blame at the subdivisions that continue to spread outwards into fertile farmland. The farmers use machinery that apparently has a significant carbon footprint, but what about all the houses replacing the farm land that used to house crops that created oxygen?
It’s an awful cycle. Consumers spread outwards from the cities and suburbs, shunning existing homes for new developments and subdivisions. These subdivisions devour land that used to be the income of farmers; often, small family farmers.
(Consider that the “big commercial farmers” have the financial stability to keep their land. They own most of their land, therefore run less risk of losing it. Smaller family farms, however, usually rent and least some of their land, and are always at risk of having their leases pulled for the sake of profitable development.)
The end result? Urban sprawl continues, farmland disappears, more and more small farmers are squeezed into tighter spaces, and more research and technology has to go into feeding the world with less space. The cities and suburbs create, often obliviously, plenty of pollution and unsolved problems, yet green groups continue to harp agriculture for it’s need of fossil fuels.
For this reason, Friday Farm Photo is another picture I’ve personally taken, which has to do with protecting the Earth.
Friday Farm Photo
This photo is from a wind farm outside of Dwight, Illinois. The farmers who willingly host these turbines in their fields receive respectable rent money without the loss of large amounts of crop land. These turbines are magnificent sources of power. Many people find them visually appealing, many people find them ugly. Love them or hate them, they may help serve as a part of the future of energy in this country.
So guys, next time you want to talk about the energy crisis, or the ozone layer, or the levels of methane and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t blame agriculture. When it comes down to needs, farmers rely on the Earth more than most.