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Rick Worthington Farmers Encouraged to 'Champion Soil'
by Rick Worthington, click here for bio

Program: Farm and Ranch Report
Date: January 08, 2019

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Farmers Encouraged to 'Champion Soil'

Farming practices aren't changing as fast as the climate, and food production is likely to suffer, according to one expert who advocates for more sustainable agriculture.

University of Washington Professor David Montgomery was the keynote speaker at the third annual Soil Revolution conference. He notes that conventional farming practices can lead to excessive soil degradation – and says combined with a rising world population and a warming climate, that could severely impact food production by the middle of this century.

"And a lot of it boils down to over-reliance on the plow, on tillage, on mechanical disturbance of the soil to prepare it for planting,” says Montgomery. “And think about the Dust Bowl – that was a man-made disaster that was triggered by plowing up the grass."

And any farmer knows that once the grass is gone, soil erosion is inevitable.

Montgomery believes if more farmers adopted conservation practices he describes as simple and affordable, they could help mitigate the climate crisis, while increasing ag productivity.

"That there was a common set of principles that guided their practices,” says Montgomery. “And those principles could really be boiled down to a simple statement: 'Ditch the plow, cover up and grow diversity.'"

According to Montgomery, traditional ag practices degrade the soil so slowly that it doesn't seem like a major concern. But over generations, it dramatically affects soil fertility.

"So there's the idea of rebuilding healthy, fertile soil can help with the resilience of a farm and its ability to better tolerate droughts.,” says Montgomery. “There's good studies that show that regenerative farmers have better yields during drought periods than their conventional neighbors."

It's estimated the planet is losing soil 10 times faster than Earth can regenerate it.

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