1. You can track your health with a fit bit. Farmers monitor their dairy cows using ankle bracelets that track things like how much milk each cow produces, how much exercise it gets, and records the animal’s overall health. It’s all about keeping those cows happy and healthy!
2. You download phone apps to check the latest sports scores or read the news. Farmers use smart phones to monitor crop conditions, weather and check the soil health of their farm. Knowing the conditions enables farmers to adjust plans on a field-by-field basis to operate sustainably year after year. Yes, there is an app for that!
3. You strive to eat a healthy diet. Farmers work with nutritionists to provide their animals a balanced diet of protein, energy, vitamins and minerals. Feeding highly nutritious byproducts, such as distiller’s grains and soybean hulls, is better for the environment because it prevents waste.
4. You treat your gardens for weeds and bugs so your vegetables and flowers can flourish. Farmers scout their fields looking for weeds and insects, then may treat their fields when they threaten the crop. They also alternate what they grow in a field to decrease weed, disease and bug problems. The practice of alternating crops is known as “crop rotation.”
5. You fertilize your lawn to make the grass green and healthy. Farmers also fertilize their crops after testing the soil to make sure the proper amount and type of nutrients are applied on the field. Fertilizers are essential for plant growth, but over-application can do more harm than good. Following label guidelines keeps our environment healthy.
6. You see a doctor when you are sick and take medicine they prescribe. If farm animals get sick, farmers rely on veterinarians to prescribe medicine to make them well again. If antibiotics are used, farmers follow specific withdrawal periods and testing protocols to ensure animals are free of any antibiotics before entering the food system.
7. You provide shelter for your family. Farmers have many different options for housing their animals, each with pros and cons. Animals living in open fields can make disease prevention and injury control challenging. Housing protects animals from predators, disease and bad weather, particularly for young animals.
8. You get places using GPS in your car or on your phone. Farmers use GPS technology in their tractors that helps them avoid overlapping the field when planting, fertilizing or spraying. And, it can help them pinpoint the exact location to target delivery of nutrients or products that protect crops.
9. You cover bare soils around your home with mulch, shade trees, ornamental plants and stones. Farmers plant “cover crops” in the fall after harvest, which shield fields over the winter, reducing erosion and nutrient loss.
10. You reduce, reuse, recycle. Farmers plant different crops in their fields every year. Using the “no-till” method, seeds are planted right into the stubble of the previous crop. This rotation enables decaying plant matter from one crop to provide nutrients for the next crop. It also means fewer tractor trips around the field, conserving fuel and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Poultry and livestock farmers have transported nearly 1 million tons of manure to other farms and facilities to provide natural fertilizer for crops or pelletized for lawns.
Did you know that the biggest crop on the Chesapeake Bay isn’t soybeans? Or corn? Or vegetables? In terms of acres — which is about the size of a football field — our home lawns and yards that take the prize. Farmers know how critical it is to take care of their environment, because without healthy soil and water, they cannot continue to farm and make their livelihood. Like farmers, homeowners play an important role in protecting our soil and water resources. Who knew we had so much in common?