Bill Berry: Take care of the soil, and it will take care of you

This is the International Year of Soils, and hopefully news outlets and organizations of all kinds will get on board to better understand and promote what is a great conservation and agriculture story.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and an array of other organizations are trying to draw attention to what wise men and women have been teaching for centuries: Take care of the soil, and it will take care of you. Soil health is being stressed in places like India, Australia, the United Kingdom and other countries across the globe.

What’s impressive here in America is how firmly this movement has already taken hold, thanks in no small part to innovative farmers across the country. Indeed, farmers have led this movement, with some conservationists at their side. In some cases, the academic community and many conservation groups are literally trying to catch up to these early adapters.

Those producers know taking care of the soil provides multiple benefits. They seek to build organic matter in soils with no-till or reduced-till farming, cover crops, strategic grazing and other techniques. They use traditional conservation practices like conservation buffers to further build resilience in their farming operations. They get together and talk about these things in field walks and workshops here in Wisconsin and across the country.

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