Same Old Conservation Ideas, Just New Words to Describe Them

While there’s increasing emphasis on “sustainable agriculture” and “soil health,” these four buzzwords tend to ruffle the feathers of veteran no-tillers and others like myself who have followed the no-till movement for nearly a half century. It’s because we recognize that earlier generations of no-tillers were the original true innovators behind these “not-so-new” concepts that go back to the 1960s.

Unfortunately, the terminology for some of the proven conservation and cropping ideas used successfully by no-tillers over the years appears to have suffered from overuse. Maybe we’ve reached the point where sound, important ag principles must be described with new names in an effort to stir up excitement and bring about further change.

One example is the steady decline that appears to be taking place with the principles of effective soil conservation. Today, the term “soil conservation” seems to have fallen out of favor among many folks in agriculture.

New Look Needed?

David Lobb, a soil scientist at the University of Manitoba, points out that maybe it’s time to come up with a new look and terminology for marketing some of our older, more successful farming practices, such as those that deal with soil erosion and conservation. He has seen a steady decline in public awareness and government support for soil conservation in Canada.

“There is a pervasive belief that we know all there is to know about soil erosion and soil conservation,” he says. “A sense of fatigue seems to have set in.”

Many western Canadian no-tillers tend to…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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