Conservation agriculture: a term often thrown around, but seldom put into practice. What does it all mean? Simply put, conservation agriculture is a set of soil management practices that “minimize disruption to the soil’s structure, composition, and natural biodiversity”, according to the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
This essentially is what people have been doing for thousands of years, since the inception of systematic agriculture. It’s only until recently that we began heavy production of commodity crops (soybeans, low-quality wheat, field corn, the usual suspects). This is partly due to Franklin Roosevelt’s enactment of the infamous New Deal during the 1930s when we really began to see this shift. Those hard times have come and gone, but it left us with a damaging and ineffective system of agriculture that has failed to address both modern environmental and social concerns.
Instead of rotating crops in the same soil, commodity farmers grow corn for instance in the same acre, season after season, year after year. Most farmers you’ll find only grow one crop on their land, as opposed to the more diverse selection offered by growers at the beginning of the 20th century. You see, back when the New Deal was put into place, it made sense to grow large quantities of storable goods to ensure a good supply of food for the coming months.
By using these harmful techniques, we undermine the integrity of the soil, harm the environment with excessive pesticides and additionally, produces low-nutrient, high-starch and sugar foods that cause obesity and a lower standard of health. If you would like to help your local farmers as well as the land and improve your health, search for locally grown and organic produce, milk products, eggs and meat. You can also contact your local congresspeople and urge them to support conservation agriculture and its goals.
Thanks for reading!