Today’s agricultural industry faces numerous issues and challenges. Let’s look at some of these areas of concern through more agricultural trivial facts. If you want to learn more, check out Farm & Food Care Ontario’s facts on farming at: www.realdirtonfarming.ca
Grazing animals, like cattle and sheep, do important work for soil conservation. By putting otherwise unproductive land to good use, they protect it from erosion and nutrient depletion, and promote greater diversity in wildlife habitat.
For livestock farmers, their priority is to provide the best environment they can for the animals in their care. It’s trying to balance animal needs, safe food, and environmental and economic realities, but they are continuously investing in animal welfare research to help them learn what is best. Today’s farm practices are a combination of practical experience, common sense, and good science.
Biotechnology involves bringing desirable traits from organisms and biological substances to another. Bread, beer and wine, which are produced with the help of yeast, are early versions of this science. Plant biotechnology will mean that crops will be grown for their value as ‘functional’ foods or nutraceuticals – appearing in vaccines and nutritional compounds to prevent or treat disease. Croplands could be the new pharmacies.
Crop protection products (pesticides) help farmers produce more food without increasing the area of cultivated land. These products are precise, safe and stringently controlled. Scientific surveys show that pesticide residues in foods are 100 to 1,000 times lower in Canada than levels considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Many of the early farming methods of crop protection involved either excessive tillage or inorganic chemicals, such as sulphur, mercury and arsenic compounds. Many of these older chemicals are no longer used because of their toxicity or persistence in the environment.
Tillage is an age-old practice and refers to plowing or working up the soil, something that’s done mostly to control weeds. Many farmers in Canada have adopted ‘conservation tillage’ or ‘no-till’ practices. By reducing tillage, crop reside is left on top of the soil rather than being incorporated underneath. This makes for better moisture retention, lower vulnerability to erosion, and overall better soil structure and health. This also reduces fossil fuel use and allows soils to sequester carbon, which reduces our greenhouse gas emissions.
Livestock don’t compete with people for food grains. About 80 per cent of the feed consumed by cattle, sheep, goats and horses could not be eaten or digested by humans. Animals convert low-energy and otherwise indigestible plant matter into nutrient-dense, protein rich food, while returning organic matter (manure) to the soil. This is the original recycling program.
Think about this – Your greatest storm God can calm. Your greatest heartbreak God can heal.
Just some food for thought.
Here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our community’s agricultural website at: www.wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 40 years. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’