Caring For The Land

Learn more about how farmers care for our land:

Because South Dakota farmers protect natural resources —
in order to grow more food — they’re true environmentalists.

  • One acre of corn removes about 8 tons of carbon dioxide from the air in a growing season (more than your car produces).
  • No-till farming acreage in South Dakota has risen from 30,000 in 1990 to over 5 million in 2010.

6 Ways Farmers Protect
Water Quality

Farmers work hard to protect streams, ponds, rivers, lakes and wetlands from pollution by livestock and crops. By keeping water edges in their natural state, we can help control runoff and erosion, and allow water insects, animals and fish to thrive.

  1. Cover cropping helps to reduce soil erosion.
  2. Furrow alignment reduces the amount of runoff from rain or irrigation.
  3. Using diversion channels sends runoff to safe areas and prevent excessive erosion.
  4. Buffer strips and grass waterways in ditches capture sediments or nutrients and prevent erosion.
  5. Natural vegetation "filter strips" intercept and trap pollutants as runoff from fields.
  6. Employing grazing management controls the length and frequency of livestock grazing near riparian areas and wetlands — especially during excessive wet seasons and early or late season growth periods.

"Clean water starts with healthy soil."

Gary Duffy
Oldham, South Dakota

5 Ways Farmers Protect
Soil Quality

Agriculture is South Dakota's biggest industry, creating $21.3 billion in economic impact that touches every corner of the state. Here are just a few ways South Dakota farmers help care for the land:

  1. Advances in seed science, machinery and precision-farming tools like Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping help farmers grow more with simplified weed control and reduced chemical applications.
  2. Due to new innovative fertilizer methods and frequent soil testing, American corn farmers are producing 70 percent more corn per ounce of fertilizer.
  3. Conservation tillage (reduced or no-till planting) conserves soil and water, and reduces soil erosion and fuel usage.
  4. Reduced tillage and other farm management practices have decreased soil erosion 37 percent in 20 years.
  5. Planting cover crops and/or moving to longer crop rotations allows farmers to naturally manage soil fertility, quality, water, weeds and pests — and improve farm habitat for wildlife.

"Healthy land is a farmer's most important tool."

Keith Alverson
Chester, South Dakota

4 Ways Farmers Protect

South Dakota farmers are long-time conservationists with a deep sense of responsibility for the land — including all its wildlife and aquatic life. Voluntary strategies include:

  1. Planting food plots for pheasant, deer and other game wildlife.
  2. Using shelterbelts to naturally protect crops, livestock or homes — and create significant wildlife habitat at the same time.
  3. Working with researchers to help protect habitat from farm production, livestock and machinery.
  4. Taking part in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that pays farmers rent in exchange for land set aside for wildlife habitat or left unused near waterways.

"Wildlife is naturally important to farm life."

David Fremark
Miller, South Dakota

4 Ways Farmers Protect
Air Quality

Farmers joke that nobody goes into farming for the sweet smells, but don't let that fool you! They're always concerned about reducing emissions and protecting the quality of the air we breathe every day.

  1. Field maintenance plays a big role in reducing emissions. That's why adopting farming practices like reduced tillage is important.
  2. Farmers also utilize Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to help guide their equipment so overlapping the field doesn't occur.
  3. Thanks to the ongoing innovations in seed, equipment and fertilizer technology, the amount of emissions generated to produce corn fell 37 percent in the last 20 years.
  4. When going green, it helps to literally be green! One acre of corn removes 8 tons of harmful greenhouse gases. This year alone South Dakota farmers planted 4.7 million acres. Wow! Take a deep breath, South Dakota.

"Clean air is important to everyone, farmers included."

Mark Gross
Bridgewater, South Dakota