By: DeEtta Bohling, Communications Specialist
How can we best feed the word? Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute talks about how to best protect the environment with regards to agriculture on a new episode of Green State TV.
New research shows that the best way to save the biodiversity of Mother Earth is to produce as much as you can on a given acre. Avery states that we need to use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. Avery goes on to say that “if we had to do it organically, you’re talking about the equivalent manure of 6-8 billion additional cows on the Earth, which is five times more cows than exist on the plant today. When we are already pasturing and grazing 26% of the Earth’s total land area, 500% more cows is going to take up all that is left.”
Alex Avery also speaks about pesticides and herbicides which help growers produce more per acre in a sustainable manner. Today, growers are able to produce more with less soil erosion. Farmers have adopted conservation tillage on millions of acres of land – and continue to expand the use of no-till and minimal till practices. The benefits for the environment are significant. No-tilling means remnants from the previous year’s crop are left untouched. Not only does this improve the soil over time, but it significantly reduces soil run-off during snowmelt or heavy rain. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted that America’s corn farmers have cut soil erosion 44 percent in two decades by using these innovative conservation methods.
Avery gives credit to a popular herbicide, Atrazine which has been used by corn, sorghum, sugarcane and other produce growers since the 1950s. Atrazine is the cornerstone of sustainable, low erosion, no-till farming which has revolutionized sustainability in agriculture. Conservation tillage is an option for more farmers today because of technological advances. Corn plants that are resistant to safer herbicides means controlling weeds in a no-till field is more efficient and less harmful to the land and people. Seed that resist insect damage mean fewer insecticides are needed to protect the crop, and that means fewer passes across the field. These technologies are made possible through biotechnology.
With advancements in technology, farmers can continue to produce more food with less soil erosion, less fertilizer, less acreage, less water and less fuel. America’s farmers have a moral obligation to care for Mother Earth and produce food for a growing population.