Farm Conservation on the Rise, But Also Threats to Drinking Water and Climate
By Colin O’Neil, Legislative Director
The latest federal Census of Agriculture shows that more farms are adopting conservation practices that can help keep drinking water clean and slow climate change. But it also shows that much more ambitious action will be needed to actually address those challenges.
According to the Department of Agriculture’s census report, which compiles data for 2017, the amount of cropland planted with cover crops increased that year, to 15 million acres, up from 10 million acres in 2012. Cover crops can significantly reduce soil erosion and fertilizer, manure, and pesticide runoff into nearby waterways.
“Why is that important? That means those farms are contributing less greenhouse gas emissions or capturing more carbon in the soil, which is what we want to happen,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said after the census was released.