Going green? Follow the farmers’ lead

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Going green? Follow the farmers’ lead

Date: 
Tue, 11/08/2011

Farmers are given the task of protecting and perpetuating the productivity of land and its natural resources.

Those who rely on the soil for their livelihood are taking care of the land today and for future generations. I recently ran across an article in my insurance newsletter entitled, “A greener green,” eco-friendly ways to get the lawn you want. While the target audience was not farmers, it gave credit to the green habits of those in agriculture.

When the average consumer requests food produced without excess chemical pesticides and fertilizers, they should turn and look at their personal use of pesticides and fertilizers. Making their homes and lawns more attractive with these aids is commonplace. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the average home owner uses 10 times more chemical pesticides and fertilizers per acre than the average farmer. Those stubborn weeds in the driveway or the bugs that seem to never go away often get a quick dose of store-purchased chemicals. Those chemical pesticides can also filter into waterways. So, while negative attention is often directed to farmers, we can be assured that we are using far fewer chemical pesticides and fertilizers than the typical home owner. The article suggests that the home owners switch to animal manure and coffee grounds to replace chemical fertilizers. These are natural fertilizers and are generally less expensive than the chemical options.

During the warm summer months, watering lawns and gardens can constitute 40 percent of household water use. The article suggested conserving rainwater in a rain barrel which can cost as little as $50. For those in agriculture, we have been using this practice for numerous years. Many dairy operations have gutter systems installed on their buildings which channel rainwater to holding tanks to be used later to rinsing corrals, flushing lanes, and irrigating. Water on many operations is recycled and reused numerous times.

So, practices the typical home owner is just starting to implement, the farmers has been doing for decades. Farmers are the original stewards of the land. Because they live on that land (or very close to it), they want to protect its natural resources, too.