Did you know that farmers care about clean water? It’s true, and their practices prove it. They include the planting of buffer strips, cover crops, reduced tillage and the application of nutrients with precision technology.
Buffer strips or grass waterways along the edge of fields and through low spots are crucial to the removal of nitrates from running water after excess rain fall. Reduced tillage and cover crops also reduce the amount of nutrient runoff and soil erosion from fields. And famers who precisely apply their nutrients or plant food to the soil are able to apply just the right amount in exact spots needed.
Beyond that, farmers are also researching and participating in different water quality projects like saturated buffers, two-stage ditch design, proper nutrient management and organized watershed districts.
An exciting research project going on in South Dakota is the work being done on denitrifying bioreactors. These bioreactors are basically giant filters made of wood chips which are buried underground at the end of a tile line. Past research shows that these filters can capture as much as 50-70% of the nitrates carried in the water.
There are two things that all of these projects have in common: 1) They benefit our water. 2) They are all at a cost to the farmer. Whether it’s dedicating land or paying for the research, installation and upkeep, these projects are coming out of our producer’s pockets.
Why? Because they have a moral obligation to care for the land and water, which enable them to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber year after year that we all depend on.