Healthy Soils, Happy Communities

Fred YoderFred Yoder is being honored as a Champion of Change for his efforts as a Community Resilience Leader.


I have always been a firm believer that many of the challenges we face today can be solved by being smarter and more efficient. Too many times we look for short-term fixes and later deal with the long-term ramifications caused by our decisions.

A significant part of our country's inability to find solutions to problems is our lack of willingness to work together. Many great ideas get thrown away simply because they are perceived to be partisan. Science is not perfect, yet it is probably the best vehicle we can use today to decide important matters.

It is clear that our weather patterns have changed over the years, producing bigger catastrophic events, such as floods and droughts, and extreme higher and lower temperatures as well. But while we see these things take place, all that some can do is assign blame for what is happening. It is time to get over what and who is responsible for the changes taking place and do what we can to mitigate the effects of the changes.

American agriculture has demonstrated the ability to adapt to change over the years by being able to produce abundant food, feed, fiber, and fuel in ways that are quite different than previous practices. We are conserving our water and soils by adapting conservation methods, utilizing new and more resilient genetics, and reducing the likelihood of nutrients being lost by altering ways in which we apply them.

But there is much more that can be done to enhance the quality of our soils. Cover crops and new rotations can enrich them with more microbial generation. Healthy soils greatly increase agricultural productivity and can mitigate greenhouse gases through sequestration by the ton.

In this day and age when government dollars are scarce, it is imperative that we do not backslide on the progress we have made thus far. There are plenty of incentives to continue to do the right things if we can recognize the benefits of what we are doing.

We must all work together to identify what is occurring and take the necessary steps to ensure we can indeed sustainably produce enough food to satisfy a hungry world. At the same time, we must provide those ecosystem services that are so valuable to society, which will ensure the world will be a better place for our children and grandchildren.

Fred Yoder is currently involved with the 25 x '25 Alliance.

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