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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Agriculture: Growing a climate for tomorrow

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Damarys Mortenson (Photo/USDA-Natural Resources Conservation)

It’s nothing you haven’t already heard. Climate change is altering our agricultural landscape as we know it. Indiana’s farmers and forestland owners are experiencing impacts like increased and more intense droughts and floods, as well as shifting weather patterns and growing seasons. These impacts threaten production as well as conservation efforts. More than ever, planning and decision-making need to account for the impacts of climate change. 

The Agriculture Council of America estimates that each American farmer feeds 166 people worldwide, a number that is growing each year as the population increases. As demand increases and factors such as a changing climate impact production, now is a key time for farmers to start looking ahead and planning for the future. That’s why this year’s Ag Day theme is “Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow.” This theme is a reminder for farmers, rural communities and agencies such as USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to continue working together to make a positive impact on food security, farm profitability and the environment in the face of extreme and changing weather.

NRCS recognizes the urgency of the climate crisis and has made it one of the agency’s top priorities.  We are committed to helping clients identify and implement the actions needed to adapt and become more resilient in the face of climate change.  Through our financial and technical assistance programs, we offer solutions to mitigate the impacts of changing weather patterns, many of which are already being implemented by Hoosier farmers and landowners; practices like no-till farming which reduces emissions by limiting the number of passes required by equipment in the fields, minimizing disturbance of the soil and keeping harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon sequestered in fields. When this practice is combined with cover crops and a nutrient management plan, farmers can have a lasting impact on the environment while also improving their operations, reducing inputs and increasing yields. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  NRCS offers a wide variety of climate smart practices for producers throughout Indiana, and I encourage you to discuss the opportunities with your local NRCS conservationist. 

As we adapt to the demands of a changing climate, NRCS’ mission to deliver conservation solutions will remain steadfast. In the months and years ahead, NRCS will continue to serve as a leader, using the best science, research, and conservation tools to assist producers and address climate change, while we do our part to support healthy landscapes and communities for generations to come.

About NRCS:

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps America’s farmers conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources.  All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment. To learn more about NRCS and what we do go visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/Indiana. Follow us on https://twitter.com/IndianaNRCS.   

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