Farmers have a vested interest in protecting wetlands, eco-diversity and other natural resources. For centuries, they’ve used traditional methods such as crop rotation and mulching to preserve the fertility of the land. Today, dairy farmers have even more options at their disposal to help reduce their environmental footprint.
Thanks to state-of-the-art manure handling equipment, storage facilities and application processes, it’s easy for farmers to get proper nutrients to the soil, while protecting against runoff and reducing air emissions. One way farmers handle manure is through modern mechanical separators, which separate the solids and liquid in manure. The solids can be directly applied to cropland or composted and sold as organic fertilizer. The separated liquids can be recycled and used for flushing alleys in the barn and irrigating fields. Technology also has shown that there are many ways to fertilize a field beyond applying the manure directly to the crop. One alternative uses high-tech equipment to “inject” underline or mix the manure right into the soil, which minimizes odor while adding rich nutrients into the soil.
Nature Takes its Course
One of the latest trends in farming is “conservation buffers” — large sections of grass and trees planted alongside streams, lakes and fields to help protect soil, air and water quality and improve fish and wildlife habitats. Buffers work by slowing water runoff, trapping sediment and enhancing water infiltration in the buffer itself. That prevents potential pollutants from reaching surface or ground water sources.
Other modern-day erosion control methods are more subtle. Alfalfa is a soil-friendly crop used for cow feed that doesn’t need to be replanted each year. Because the plants remain in the ground year-round, annual plowing isn’t necessary, therefore, the topsoil is left protected.