Farmers Lead on Climate Resiliency

Jerry Peckumn farms in Jefferson, Iowa. To prevent soil erosion, Jerry plants perennials on his steepest land and maintains buffer strips. At a climate forum in Grinnell, he emphasized the importance of finding good ways to incorporate more perennials.

Though he uses numerous conservation practices, he is always looking for ways to improve the resiliency of his land. For many farmers, taking steps to build resilience in the face of a changing climate comes naturally.

Agriculture can play a big role in curbing the impacts of climate change. You’ve told us you use cover crops, rotational grazing practices, diversified cropping systems, and plant crops that require less water. Some of you talk about maintaining healthy soils that hold more moisture in dry years.

Or you discuss organic agriculture, or the important role of farmers as innovators. Many of you are shifting to smart irrigation techniques as part of a suite of practices to build resiliency.

Harley Buys farms near Edgerton, Minnesota. When he spoke on a climate and energy discussion panel in St. Peter, he talked about reducing tillage, building soil organic matter, and crop rotations. Harley also discussed investing locally in renewable energy projects that he can see from his own backyard.

Farmers are also using renewable energy to lower energy costs on their farms. After the hot, dry summer of 2012, Mark Epp and Cathy Wismer of Henderson, Nebraska, decided to harness the power of the sun to reduce electricity costs by installing a 7.2 kilowatt solar array. They are able to sell any excess power they generate back to the grid. Members of the agricultural community are also voicing support for policy changes that would encourage utilities to invest in more renewable energy.

Among the many resources available to help farmers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems is the Conservation Stewardship Program. CSP provides funding for conservation activities that address critical resources concerns. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) is also a great resource to learn more about cost-saving conservation practices and sustainable production techniques.

What practices are you using - or considering - to make your land more resilient? You can learn more about what farmers are saying and doing here. And contact us to share your own story! Send me an email at laurenk@cfra.org or call 402.687.2103 ext 1022.

Feature image: To lower energy costs, Nebraska farmers Mark Epp and Cathy Wismer decided on a solar array on their farm. | Photo provided by Mark Epp