Can Adopting Conservation Practices Make Farming Less Risky?

It’s no secret that farming can be risky. With extreme weather increasing, trade disruptions, and pressure from developers, farmers often feel stuck in a system that no longer works for them.

While there’s no clear answer to fix every issue farmers face, there are solutions that can help. Farmers are the world’s best problem solvers. At American Farmland Trust, we’ve seen first-hand how adoption of conservation practices can have a positive impact in helping farmers manage risk.

To dive deeper into this very issue, AFT staff recently attended the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership’s, ISAP’s, second annual risk management conference focused on “solving the resiliency puzzle.” The conference brought together over 80 farmers, experts, community members, and specialists dedicated to encouraging the adoption of conservation practices as a risk reduction tool for farmland.

AFT is a current and founding member of ISAP— an organization whose mission is to create a network to support a systems approach on agriculture lands to improve soil health and reduce nutrient loss. AFT’s involvement with ISAP is both broad and detailed. We help lead day-to-day tasks that involve agriculture in the state of Illinois and also collaborate with many different partners who might be doing similar projects.

One project in particular that we have stewarded is the Advanced Soil Health Training. This training provides an opportunity for farmers, retailers, and conservation practitioners to both understand best soil health practices and communicate them to their neighbors and community members. Many of ISAP’s partners are adopting this project and implementing it across the state.

AFT sees the adoption of conservation practices as a smarter-farming, risk reduction tool for the farm. There are barriers when a farmer is not able to gain access to resources and a trustworthy mentor. There may also be financial obstacles when a farmer seeks to adopt conservation practices. Through research, the agriculture community is finding that these practices can be profitable for the farmer while providing benefits for local businesses, citizens, and rural communities.

Farming can be risky business—but there are many successful solutions that can help. AFT remains committed to supporting farmers in making their farms more resilient with our innovative programs, involvement with ISAP, and partnerships in the Midwest and across the nation.

Interested in learning more about implementing conservation practices?  Contact Kris Reynolds, AFT’s Midwest deputy director, at kreynolds@farmland.org; or the Farmland Information Center at (800) 370-4879.