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April 22, 2017

Earth Day and Ag: Conserving the Farming Tradition, the Earth, and the Wildlife in It

Take a look at the role of agriculture in conservation this Earth Day, and see how a conservation easement loan fits in.

Earth Day—April 22nd—started as a national day to focus on the environment, and for those in agriculture, every day has been a good day to focus on land conservation. Farmers and ranchers have long acted as stewards of the land, protecting the natural resources that sustain their agricultural ends. This Earth Day is a good one for all “agvocates” to let others know what steps their ag operations undertake on a daily basis and spread the word on sustainable agriculture practices. Learn about a few of the environmental “best practices” those in the agriculture industry follow, and consider a conservation easement loan.

Land Conservation Practices in Agriculture

Many of the country’s growers and producers have been utilizing land conservation practices even before such practices were so named. These practices save water, protect the land, and help wildlife. Explore these sustainable agriculture techniques below.

Organic Operations. Farms grow crops without the aid of chemical pesticides and herbicides. This keeps pesticides and other chemicals off the food we consume and out of the environment. Operations are certified and overseen by the USDA Organic program.

Soil Conservation. Land conservation techniques aimed at protecting the land and the soil.

  • No-till farming. Tilling the land was once considered the best way to farm land, but research has proven that the mechanical upheaval of soil disrupts the soil’s biology and minerals, and leads to increased erosion. No-till farming relies on limited or no mechanical disking of the soil.
  • Crop rotation/ Intercropping. Crops are rotated in different fields so that crops that deplete soils are alternated with those that add to the soil.
  • Cover crops. These crops are planted in the off season to replenish the soil and protect it from erosion.
  • Rotational Grazing. The pastures livestock graze in are rotated often to allow soils and grasses to replenish.

Water Conservation. Farming practices that focus on water conservation aim to use less water and keep the farm’s ground water clean.

  • Conservation Drainage. Systems to keep field runoff and fertilizers from reaching water tables.
  • Waste Control Systems. Methods for collecting, storing and treating livestock manure and feed wastes to reduce runoff and water pollution.
  • Focused Irrigation. Delivers water at the roots to reduce water usage and water loss, i.e. drip irrigation.
  • Nutrient Management/ 4Rs. Using crop nutrients as efficiently as possible to improve productivity and reduce runoff.

Wildlife Conservation. These practices focus on protecting the area’s flora and fauna under the “farm the best, conserve the rest” ideology.

  • Conservation Easement. A voluntary legal agreement between the landowner and a land trust or government agency that limits the uses of a land tract in perpetuity in order to protect the land’s conservationvalue while allowing the land to be used for agriculture.
  • Invasive Species Management. A system for removing invasive species so native species can thrive.
  • Habitat Regeneration. Reintroducing native plants like trees, shrubs, and native grasses to restore habitats.

Conservation Easement Loan Issues

A conservation easement limits an owner’s rights to a tract of land—such as development rights—while preserving others—such as the right to live on the land and the right to farm or graze on it. A conservation easement loan, a loan for land with a conservation easement, must be handled by knowledgeable land brokers or delays and other problems could arise during the sale.

Considering a conservation easement loan? Contact us, the land lending specialists, to get started on the road to protecting a piece of treasured land today.

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