What a crazy time we are in right now between trade, adverse weather conditions and now a global pandemic. This current state of our planet is something we have never seen or experienced before. However, the key takeaway here is how vital agriculture is to the world at large. Farmers and agriculturalists are essential to feeding the planet and feeding it sustainably. Throughout this time of uncertainty, our message is to keep your head up and to focus on opportunities that will and are emerging out of the variety of struggles at hand.
“As long as people are eating food, farmers will always be needed.” We know this as farmers, and we know we need to produce food to feed the world but also to provide tools to produce fuel and fiber as well. The focus is to do this more sustainably and within tighter supply chains, while being more aware of your impact on atmospheric carbon, your impact on water quality, your water-use efficiencies and the nutritional quality of the crop you’re producing.
A 7-year farm Plan
During this time of being stuck at home, focus on reflecting on your own farm and the vision you have for your farm’s future. While I was attending Soil Health U in Kansas this winter Ray Archuleta asked the audience “how many of you have a seven-year plan for your farm?” Not a single hand went up in the crowd…
This ended up being one of my biggest takeaways from the event and inspired me to go home and talk to my Dad about our family farm’s seven-year plan. In order to make this plan, we started by looking at the seven-year history of our farm where over that time we have gone full no-till, adopted cover crops, used multi-species cover crops, implemented relay cropping and messed around with a variety of other experimental undertakings.
As we look seven years into the future, we have big goals! These goals include removing the use of RoundUp from our operation and drastically reducing our utilization of GMO seed and synthetic inputs. We want to focus on profitability per acre, long-term environmental sustainability, and opportunities for transparent connectivity with the supply chain, bringing more margin to our farm’s bottom line.
A Little Homework
I encourage all of you to take the opportunity to put together a seven-year plan for your own farm. Focus on the legacy that you want to leave on your farm. What will future generations of farmers look like? Will those generations be from within your own family? Will your farm be passed off to someone outside of your current operation? Do you want to encourage other young farmers to get involved? Maybe you could mentor a young person to one day take over, if you don’t have someone from your own family who would want to do this.
Focus on leaving a positive impact on the land you steward directly but also on the environment as a whole. In order to prepare for the future, whether that be 5, 10 or 20 years away, you need to start making adjustments and implementing your ideas now. For our operation specifically, if we are going to get rid of RoundUp, we need to start experimenting with other tools and methods to take its place. If you’re going to reduce your need for synthetic fertilizer or adopt compost or other tools, you need to start experimenting now. Start small scale so you can fail small scale. Learn from those opportunities and be able to attain your goals within a reasonable amount of time.
As always, at Continuum Ag we are here for you and we want to help. We hope that our TopSoil Tool can be a resource to help foster these conversations and to focus on opportunities for your operation, opportunities for rural communities and opportunities for Midwest agriculture. We know that agriculture as an industry is essential and the role that you play is critical.
Focus on your vision and what your role will be in the future of agriculture – a future where people are more interested in where their food comes from and in food security (just in case the next global pandemic arises) For more information or to dig deeper into our seven-year plan, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.