In America’s Heartland, the Midwest, fertile soils help farmers produce abundant harvests of soybeans and grain crops such as corn, wheat, and oats. Much of this harvest is transported down the Mississippi River in order to reach its final destination.
Our prime farmland soils and abundant rainfall can and do grow many additional crops. Livestock, vegetables, fruits, tree nuts, berries and nursery/greenhouse plants are also grown throughout the Midwest. But our working farms and ranches also face huge challenges in keeping topsoil and harmful levels of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from leaving farm fields and entering our waterways.
In the Midwest, AFT works with farmers, landowners, and conservation partners to promote the use of Conservation Cropping Systems (suites of conservation practices such as cover crops, reduced tillage and efficient use of nutrients) to improve the health of our soils and protect them from water and wind erosion. Over time these improvements reduce the environmental impacts while improving farm profitability by increasing nutrient efficiency, reducing sediment and nutrient losses, and making farms more resilient to extreme weather conditions. Healthy soils full of life can hang onto life-giving carbon, nutrients, and water, making it available for our crops and helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.
In addition to working with farmers and landowners, we also support the implementation of conservation by quantifying outcomes of soil health practices to prove “they work,” and by encouraging non-operating landowners— especially the growing percentage of women landowners—to engage with their farmers about adopting these win-win conservation practices.
In the Midwest, we need to save the land – not just by the acre but also by the inch.