As farmers we live and work dependent on the Earth. Its soil truly is our past, present and future. So, that is why we not only celebrate Earth Day once a year, but all year long each and every one of the 365 (or 366) days!
When I reflect on my family’s farm today and generations in the past, I can tell you that ensuring a healthy place to live, enjoy, and farm is at the forefront of what we do each day. There are two main tools that we use on our farm that help us ensure our land is as healthy as possible 1) soil sampling and 2) precision farming.
Soil sampling- a tub is inserted deep into the soil and removed. When it is removed a sample of the soil is removed. Layers can be seen when examined. This sample is then sent off to be analyzed for soil nutrient. It is much like taking a granola bar and breaking it apart to identify and list components and nutrient values/ amounts. With this information we can provide the soil, when needed, with nutrients to help the crop planted grow without depleting the nutrient value to an unhealthy state.
Precision farming- use of images created through sensors on equipment to guide seeding and fertilizing process. This technology allows us to monitor how much seed is planted to the nearest inch, how far apart the seeds are planted, how much fertilizer and exactly where it is placed, and adjust these setting as we go. That means that we can take a map and data from the past years, analyze it and know that certain parts of a field grow a smaller amount of crop than another. This can due to many reasons some of which include topography, soil type, moisture, wind, sunlight etc. We then can place less seed and nutrient supports in these areas. All of which can be programmed into the computer software ahead of time and can be done automatically through the software or manually by the driver in the tractor cab. The coolest part is that in addition to making adjustments, we can turn entire sections of our planter, seeder, fertilizer spreader and sprayer on and off as needed.
So on this day that many celebrate the Earth…. I continue on the path of honoring what it has provided and protecting it for future generations!
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” —Theodore Roosevelt