Take Action for Healthy Soil

Duane Hovorka
Hands holding soil - credit Duane Hovorka

On farms from Poolesville, Maryland, to Kearney, Nebraska, and the Central Valley of California, a growing number of farmers and ranchers are changing the way they produce our food. They are using conservation tillage, planting winter cover crops, diversifying the crops they grow, and shifting towards better grazing systems that rebuild the health of our soils.

Healthy, living soils with strong numbers of beneficial bacteria and fungi feed the plants and help protect them from pests and disease. That lets farmers reduce or eliminate the chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and fuel they use.

Healthy soil grows healthier food, and that is better for all of us.

In places like the Chesapeake Bay, the changes farmers are making upstream are making a difference. Combined with better treatment of stormwater runoff and municipal and industrial sewage, the amount of fertilizer and sediment pouring into the Bay is falling. Underwater grasses have been responding, and that gives us hope for the future of the blue crabs, striped bass, oysters, and other critters that live in the Bay.

Yet we have a long way to go in the Chesapeake Bay, and even further to go in the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River, the Everglades and waterways all across our country.

Many farms are still losing topsoil 10 times faster than it can be replenished by nature. But we now know that cutting-edge soil health practices can speed up soil regeneration to rates far above what we ever believed possible.

The changes needed require an investment of time, expertise and money, and federal policy can help farmers and ranchers get those critical resources. That’s why the Izaak Walton League of America is a founding partner in Regenerate America, a coalition of farmers, businesses, non-profits and individuals from all over our country. We are working together to advance regenerative agriculture in the 2023 Farm Bill and beyond.

If we’re going to protect our food supply, make our waters swimmable and fishable again, cool global warming, and support prosperous rural communities, we must work with farmers, ranchers and farmland owners to help them adopt cutting-edge practices that will regenerate America’s soil.

The need is urgent, but soil is our common ground. Together, we can Regenerate America!

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