Monday, February 28, 2022


This essay is a merit winner in the 2022 Ag Day Essay Contest.  Visit for more details on National Ag Day.

Makenna Stundebeck

Salisbury, Missouri

Howard Buffett said, “The challenge is clear; we have to conserve and improve the soil we have, and we need to turn dirt into soil wherever people need to grow food” (Buffett). The question is, is there a compromise between increasing the bottom line and being good stewards of the land? Farmers have the daunting task of keeping their farms afloat, while maintaining a stable, and healthy environment for future generations. As farmers and innovative thinkers in the agriculture industry, it is our responsibility to be constantly researching methods to preserve the Earth while providing for the ever-growing population. Whether it is through cover crops, the usage of buffer zones, or by reducing chemical application, farmers must always take into account tactics to preserve the Earth’s soil, water, and air.

No one is closer to the land than a farmer. The livelihoods of farmers depend on their ability to use the land, therefore, it is in the farmer’s best interest to help protect the land because they rely on it. One way that farmers protect the Earth’s soil is through cover crops. Cover crops are grown to protect and enrich the soil and make sure that the soil is healthy by putting nutrients back into it. The use of cover crops has also been shown to increase crop yields, therefore, farmers can grow more food and feed more people.

Farmers are also proactive gatekeepers of the earth’s water resources, through the usage of buffer zones. With buffer zones, farmers plant strips of vegetation between fields and bodies of water, such as streams and lakes. These plants keep soil in place, and soil out of the water source. Buffer zones also act as a filter for water that flows from the field to the waterway. This is important because clean water is a necessity for farmers, their land and families.

Lastly, farmers are positive stewards of the air. Farmers breathe the same air that is around their crops, so they are mindful about chemicals they spray. Many farmers conduct soil tests on their land so that they are only applying the amount of nutrients needed for what they are planning to grow. This requires farmers to constantly regulate chemical usage, which allows them to be aware of the chemicals they spray on crops to ensure toxins are not released into the air.

Agriculture is an industry that is at the root of the American Enterprise system. It is an industry that continues to evolve and grow, because feeding the world is not a job that will become obsolete. Farmers are stewards of the soil, water, and air, and continuously work to preserve the land for future generations.