It’s time to set the record straight on how the agriculture industry is working to preserve the planet. While it’s the largest industry globally and 50% of Earth’s land is dedicated to pasture and growing crops, consumers may be unaware of how farmers strive to practice sustainable agriculture. Farmers work hard to be stewards of the land and natural resources, meeting the demand for more food while balancing the long-term health of the environment. In fact, the U.S. Sustainability Alliance says this country has practiced sustainability and conservation before these became every day topics of discussion.

For centuries, agronomy (the crop, soil and plant sciences) has contributed to many improvements in agricultural production and increases in crop yields. Today, agronomists consult with farmers on opportunities to adopt new and innovative approaches to improve crop productivity and lower their carbon footprint. But do consumers know there are many practices in effect that create benefits for the environment?

Sustainable Agriculture Practices Today

While farming looks different across the U.S. based on regions and crops grown, there are already many commonsense sustainability efforts in place, including:

    • Crop rotation to maintain soil fertility and manage pests
    • Soil conservation techniques, such as no-till or minimum tillage to protect soil from wind and erosion
    • Cover crops, such as rye or clover, planted in between crop cycles to help prevent soil erosion and improve nutrients in the soil
    • Integrated pest management, which combines a variety of pest control tools to minimize risk and damage
    • Precision agriculture, which targets the application of inputs, fertilizer and water to increase efficiency and minimize waste
    • Water conservation, through precision irrigation and soil monitoring to avoid overwatering
    • Site-specific application of fertilizer to minimize runoff into bodies of water
    • Conservation of wildlife habitat through buffer strips or the inclusion of native plants to support biodiversity and beneficial insects
    • Livestock management practices, such as rotational grazing, to prevent overgrazing and soil degradation

According to the USDA, increasing agricultural productivity with less total input (land, water, labor and capital) over the last 50 years has helped reduce poverty, increase food availability, decrease biodiversity loss and support economic growth.

Raising Awareness of Sustainability Practices

Sustainable practices in agriculture already play a crucial role in protecting the environment. Effective communication about these positive effects can help build consumer trust and reassurance. Those of us who work in the communications industry can help build consumer awareness through the following efforts:

    • Educational campaigns to share successful stories and impacts of sustainable practices
    • Feature certifications and farming practices on product labels and packaging
    • Promote farmer sustainability stories in media
    • Raise awareness about company partnerships that prioritize sustainability

Most importantly, telling the story of sustainable agriculture may also spark new, innovative ideas that further contribute to protecting the future of the planet.

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