Farming is unlike any other profession. Raising crops and livestock takes perseverance, optimism and a thick skin to survive the ups and downs of fickle weather and commodity prices. But, no matter what the size of your farming operation or years of experience, one thing holds true for every farmer: a passion for the land.
Take Kevin and Sara Ross. The southwest-Iowa couple farm fields that have been in their families for more than 100 years. Maintaining that legacy drives many of their production practices to improve the land. They utilize soil-health practices, the latest in precision and equipment technology, as well as layers of field data to enrich and preserve their most valuable resource. With four young sons, the Rosses have their eyes toward the future, hoping one or all of their boys will be interested in taking over the farm.
“Who knows?” says Ross, a sixth-generation farmer. “But, if it’s not them, hopefully it will be somebody else caring for the land the same way we do.”
That strong sense of stewardship is deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of all farmers and ranchers, because productive soil is the foundation for success. Land is the ultimate natural resource that can’t be manufactured. As caretakers, growers must be keen observers and assess how their actions and decisions influence the overall health of the soil. In effect, they must “Listen to the Land.”
We hope you will listen to and learn what growers have to say in this special issue of Progressive Farmer. Inside, you’ll find inspiring and insightful stories on how farmers apply soil-health practices, sustainable solutions and various technologies to boost productivity today while improving the land to pass on to the next generation.
Growers such as Annie Dee are building a legacy by incorporating no-till and cover crops to improve soil tilth. Dee also installed sophisticated sensors and a programmable pivot-irrigation system
to optimize water use and savings. Adam and Seth Chappell look beneath the surface to focus on the billions of organisms that live in the soil. The brothers say it’s part of their process to build soil so that it gets better--and more productive--year after year, decade after decade.
You’ll find many other success stories in this issue. All of these farmers understand that to meet the demands of a global population racing toward 10 billion people by mid-century, it will put added pressure on land resources. Growers such as the Rosses will continue to refine and refresh cropping systems that boost productivity, protect the environment and embrace sustainable solutions. They know that if they want a seventh generation of farmers, they will need to “Listen to the Land.”
Write Editor In Chief Gregg Hillyer, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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