Sustainability in agriculture

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 6:54 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It has become quite a buzz word in agriculture today. At the recent Nebraska State Dairy Association annual meeting, we learned how producers are promoting sustainability in their operations.

We talked with producer Lowell Mueller from the Hooper area. He points out that sustainability may be a focus right now, but it’s something farmers have always been concerned about. “Sustainability means we want to continue doing the best job we can with our land, our water, our air, and how we take care of our animals,” Mueller said. “It’s nothing new to us, but the public and the consumer has more interest in it. So, I guess it’s what we need to do, is tell our story about that.”

Farmers have always been the ultimate stewards of the land. “We want to produce our products in a sustainable way, and still be able to make a profit,” Mueller said. “There are a lot of things we’ve done over the years to maintain sustainability. For example, I have a registered dairy herd. Just by improving your genetics, you improve your sustainability. You can genetically produce more animals that will produce more milk, so it’s more efficient. There are farming practices like no-till. No-till helps farmers retain the carbon part of the soil. It will also keep a lot more nutrients in the soil, and there will be a lot less erosion. That’s another technique that farmers use. Being an animal producer, we want to make sure we are treating our animals the right way. We provide good housing. And, we actually hire a nutritionist that comes out once a month. We go over our feedstuffs, and we want to feed the animal the best we can, to make her the healthiest we can, and give the most milk. Of course, that is another sustainable technique.”

Producers say the carbon footprint is a growing issue for consumers. “The consumer wants to make sure our planet is safe,” Mueller said. “I guess we are learning more about carbon all along. But, what some of the research is showing us is that farmers all along have tried to reduce their carbon footprint. That’s what we are trying to do is tell our story, about all of the things we are doing to improve on that.”

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