Future Friendly Farming

  • Ryan Stockwell, Eliav Bitan
  • Oct 05, 2011

America’s farmers provide food, fuel, and fiber for a growing nation. They also provide other valuable services like water management, water filtration, soil protection, recreation, and wildlife habitat. Today, people are placing increasing demands upon our lands for more goods and services. As a result, America’s farmers and foresters must obtain the most from our lands while protecting these precious resources to meet the needs of future generations. In order to sustain ourselves and future Americans, farmers and foresters must take a fresh look at how they manage the land.

Increased variability in commodity prices, input costs, and weather patterns is leading to increased uncertainty for farmers. In an ever-changing world and industry, those best able to consistently produce while reducing costs will hold a competitive advantage. The innovative future friendly farming practices outlined in this report can help growers gain an economic advantage by reducing their costs while increasing their crop yields, productivity, and revenue.

In addition to providing tools to address increasing uncertainty and production challenges for farmers, future friendly farming practices offer solutions to pressing environmental issues. The techniques discussed here— cover crops, conservation tillage, organic management, rangeland and grassland management, forest management, anaerobic digesters, and increasing native ecosystems—benefit nature in the following ways:

  • Cover crops increase water management capacity, reduce erosion and nutrient loss, and improve wildlife habitat.
  • Conservation tillage reduces erosion while increasing nesting cover for birds and wildlife.
  • Organic farming eliminates chemical use, increases soil fertility and increases wildlife habitat.
  • Grassland management boosts soil fertility, biodiversity, and grassland ecosystem health.
  • Forest management increases soil fertility and biodiversity.
  • Anaerobic digesters reduce threats to water quality and provide local renewable electric and thermal energy.
  • Retaining and returning land to native ecosystems increases biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and improves water quality.

The seven techniques highlighted in this report offer valuable ecosystem services that will save taxpayers, farmers, and consumers money. Implementing these practices will reduce costs associated with water filtration, flood prevention, wildlife habitat preservation, and other critical land management issues.

Climate change poses a threat to current and future generations, with serious implications for our food supply, water, and wildlife resources. Consequently, it is important to recognize key tools for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapting to the realities of a changing climate with more extreme weather events. Future friendly farming and forestry practices offer shovel-ready and highly cost-effective emissions reductions and sequestration methods to begin decreasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. The practices discussed here will prove useful to farmers seeking to reduce the uncertainty tied to climate change. These cost-effective strategies will be vital in helping agriculture address and adapt to climate change, all the while improving profit margins for farmers and sustaining opportunities for the next generation to farm.

Future Friendly Farming

Seven agricultural practices to sustain people and the environment.


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