A Boone, Iowa farmer is pioneering sustainable agricultural techniques that some researchers say may be the next step forward in the development of American agriculture.
For years, agricultural researchers and food safety advocates have warned about the dangers that come with the heavy use of fertilizers and chemicals in modern agricultural production. Recent environmental surveys done by the United Nations and the Environmental Protection Agency have found that significant amounts of the planet’s water and soil resources have degraded over time, with significant damage being done by agricultural pollution and runoff.
Dick Thompson, a longtime Boone farmer, appears to have developed a system that combines profitable production with sustainable practices. Thompson’s 300-acre farm eschews the current emphasis on corn and soybeans, preferring instead to rotate between four crops throughout the years and relying on crop diversity to prevent pest problems and to regenerate the nutrients in the soil. In addition, Thompson collects animal manure in an effort to avoid reliance on fertilizers and uses cover crops to control weed growth.
While this style of mixed farming requires significantly more work, farm researchers believe that it can provide a solution to the nutrient needs of a growing global population while simultaneously protecting an increasingly fragile ecosystem.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer