Conservationist = Farmer
By: Rebecca Christman
|These is not your regular radish, the roots go deep!
What comes to mind when you think of a conservationist? For me it’s a farmer! Because the land is their livelihood, farmers are working hard to protect the ground for future generations. One way we do this on our farm is by planting cover crops.
The cover crop isn’t a crop that we can harvest and store, however it’s just as important to the farm. After harvesting one crop, we plant a mix of turnips and radishes back onto the same soil. Because these plants have deep roots, they are important for breaking up the soil.
When these plants decompose they add additional organic matter to the soil. This means that more water is absorbed for later use, and nutrients are added back into the ground. Because we have cattle, a cover crop has an additional benefit. The cattle love to graze on the tops of the turnips and radishes!
Cover crops are beneficial even if you don’t have cattle! As my dad says “Cover crops aren’t just for farmers that have livestock, cover crops are beneficial for farms that only raise crops too!” Additional organic matter and increased water holding capacity leads to healthier soil. This also increases yields. It’s a win all around!
Using cover crops is a relatively new strategy. The use of cover crops has doubled in just five years!1 Farmers are continually finding ways to keep the land, air, and water is healthy. The next time you think of conservation, think of farmers!
Listen to this week's radio segment here! 8.17.15.mp3