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(Posted Thu. May 18th, 2017)
Agricultural and conservation leaders are amplifying the drum beat on the importance of soil health in 21st Century land management. The National Corn Growers Association showed its support for this effort today, participating in the Soil Health Institute’s unveiling of its new Soil Health Action Plan in Washington, D.C.
Speakers at the event said soil health must emerge as the cornerstone of land use management decisions, in part due to increased extreme weather events, the growing population, and the decrease in arable farmland.
Keith Alverson, a sixth-generation farmer near Chester, South Dakota, who serves as a member of the Corn Board of the National Corn Growers Association served on the panel at the event. He noted he participated because of his personal commitment to healthy soil and to reflect NCGA’s commitment to soil health via its support of the Soil Health Partnership.
Healthy soil prevents erosion, is more resilient to flooding and drought, and more efficiently stores nutrients that plants need over time. It also has more organic matter, which helps plants remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Enhancing soil health improves water quality, too.
“As a farmer, I am committed to soil health because I know we must constantly strive to improve how we care for our land and how we farm it,” Alverson said. “And I’m not alone. Most farmers care deeply about their land, and leaving it better for future generations. If you take care of the soil, the soil will take care of you."
On his farm, Alverson’s practices to improve soil health include advanced nutrient management, like split application, precision agriculture, conservation tillage and cover crops.