Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Farming Practices Need Change to be Sustainable

To accommodate the increasing world population and climate change, farming methods must be both productive and sustainable. Shivaji Pandev, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Plant Production and Protection Division, advocated for strategic improvements to farming practices throughout the world at the IVth World Congress on Conservation Agriculture in New Delhi.

"The world has no alternative to pursuing Sustainable Crop Production Intensification to meet the growing food and feed demand, to alleviate poverty and to protect its natural resources. Conservation Agriculture is an essential element of that Intensification," Pandey said.

To increase production, farmers throughout the world have made similar mistakes: ploughing too often, applying too much fertilizer or pesticide, or providing too much irrigation water. While these strategies may appear effective in the short-term, they have long term consequences that reduce productivity.

To increase production effectively over the long term, farming practice changes should be focused on conservation agriculture, which is a practice that eliminates ploughing and includes the use of crop rotation and permanent soil cover.

Conservation agriculture helps increase productivity, but it has additional benefits as well. It reduces the carbon footprint created by farming and reduces water loss since healthy soil loses less water to evaporation. For more detail about Pandev’s presentation or recommendations, view the full article here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

SWCS Publishes Book: Relationship with the Land

The Soil and Water Conservation Society has released a new book: Relationship with the Land. This collection of essays was edited by Mark Anderson-Wilk.

“Though we still live from the land, as we always have and always must, we now live with the land less than ever before,” Wendell Berry, “Living with the Land” chapter.

Cherish the work started by conservation fathers Aldo Leopold and Hugh Hammond Bennett, learn about the growth of conservation ethic, and challenge yourself to consider future conservation implications, all by reading one book. Relationship with the Land includes a collection of the most thought-provoking articles that have appeared in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation within the last 60 years, as well as two invited essays that bring an international perspective and a controversial idea to the conservation conversation.

Relationship with the Land includes four sections:
· Hugh Hammond Bennett and the Soil Conservation Movement
· Aldo Leopold and the Land Ethic
· Development of Conservation Thought on Land Stewardship and Natural Resource Values
· The Future of the Conservation Land Ethic

“Each of us has the right to own and enjoy property, whether that property is a dollar bill, a book, or an acre of farmland…We cannot use the dollar to pay for commission of a crime, or the book to hit somebody over the head, or that farmland in a way that diminishes the private or public values of our neighbors,” Neil Sampson, “Achieving Public Values on Private Land” chapter.

“While the claim of the moral “high ground” on the basis of values may be personally gratifying, it has diverted needed attention away from understanding why land owners may be unwilling or unable to act on these values.” Pete Nowak, “Of What Value are Values in Resource Management?”

Relationship with the Land is now available at the SWCS Online Store.
ISBN 978-0-9769432-6-6

Sunday, February 8, 2009

IOWA: State seeks more wetlands to fight pollution runoff

By PHILIP BRASHER, Des Moines Register

Adel, Ia. - State agriculture officials think they have the solution to the pollution problems caused by water that drains off the state's farms: Drain the water faster.

Shallow ponds like the one created with federal money on a Dallas County farm can destroy much of the pollution that runs off neighboring corn fields and eventually into Des Moines-area water supplies and on to the Gulf of Mexico.

Read the article...

Don't just read it, talk about it! Post your thoughts below in the comments or on the SWCS Network at

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Conservation Project Begins in Hawaii

The USDA Commodity Credit Corporation and the State of Hawaii have teamed up to improve water quality, increase groundwater recharge, filter agricultural runoff to preserve reef diversity, restore habitat, and control invasive species.

"USDA is proud to collaborate with the State of Hawaii on this important agreement that will improve the state's water quality and wildlife habitat. It will protect the Hawaiian Islands' vital watersheds and riparian areas on marginal pastureland and cropland," said Carolyn Cooksie, acting administrator of the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The partnership, which is based on a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program agreement, will encourage preservation and restoration of land on Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kauai, and Oahu. The goal for this project is to enroll 2,000 acres for forest restoration and 13,000 acres for wetland restoration.

Participation in this program is voluntary, and the signup date will be announced soon. For more information about available practices and incentives, click here.