Every day is Earth Day for farmers
While today might officially be Earth Day, the reality for farmers is that every day is Earth Day.
One thing I’ve learned since becoming a farm wife is that farmers have a connection to and love for the land like no one else. It makes sense when you think about it. We depend on the land to grow our crops.
Soil is the basis of everything we do. If we don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of us. Some of the things we do to take care of our soil include taking soil samples every year. The results tell us what nutrients are in the soil and what nutrients it needs to grow a crop. This means we are only using as much fertilizer and lime as the soil needs. This is best not only for our soils, but also for our waterways.
We know there are many different types of soil and not all soil is created equal. Soil type has a lot to do with what crops farmers choose to grow. Some crops, like sweet potatoes, grow better in sandy soils found on some of our farms. Corn and soybeans grow well in the rich, black soils of eastern North Carolina, reaching yields the soils in our part of the state can’t match. Blueberries grow best in acidic soils, which means soils that have a low pH. The soils on our farms aren't acidic, which is why you won't find blueberry farms nearby.
We rotate crops, not only to help with pest and disease control, but also for soil health. Soybeans are a legume, which means the plant makes its own nitrogen, one of the main nutrients in fertilizer. By using soybeans in our rotations, we are putting nitrogen back into the soil.
Every year, we have increased the acres we plant cover crop on. For us, that’s wheat, and it grows all winter until we are ready to plant in the spring. Having the wheat helps prevent erosion, and when the cover crop is tilled under, it adds organic matter to the soil.
Farmers have a unique tie to the Earth, one that is often generations deep. That tie to the land means we do our best to care for it, not only because it’s what we should do, but also so that land is here for the next generation. If we love the land, it will love us back.