9.26.17 / Amy Erlandson
Sustainable Farming: Leaving Things Better Than We Found Them
Diane Karr and her family raise soybeans, corn, beef cattle, alfalfa, grain sorghum and wheat on their Nebraska farm.
Growing up, we were taught to leave things in better condition than we found them. This philosophy applies to everything on the farm – whether it’s a shovel sitting in the corner of the shed, the livestock we care for, or the land, water and air around us.
On-Farm Sustainability Efforts
This sense of responsibility and care for the environment is something we also instilled in our own children. We have all become creative problem solvers as we build on what we’ve learned and work to produce more and better food, using fewer resources.
One way we protect the soil and water is through conservation tillage. For the last 25-30 years, we have greatly reduced or eliminated tilling our fields (or turning the soil) before we plant our seeds. This helps prevent soil erosion, protects our water and keeps valuable nutrients in place.
Water is a very important resource to our farm and our communities. There’s a lot that goes into irrigation and water use on our farm. We use moisture sensors to measure the moisture levels in our soils. We also use the latest technology to help our irrigation systems run efficiently and to be sure we’re only using what we need.
Conservation tillage practices and managing water use on our farm are just a couple examples of how we’re working to leave things in a better condition than we found them. We also use precision agriculture technology, cover crops, crop rotation and the latest seed technology to improve the sustainability of our farm.
Focusing on Continuous Improvement
While we have made significant improvements over the years, we know there is still work to do. We continue to learn from agronomists, university experts, neighbors and other farmers about what works well on their farms. We’re constantly adapting and adopting the next tool to what works for our fields and our farm.
By using our resources carefully and respectfully now, we can ensure they are available for our children, grandchildren, neighbors and those who live here after us.