By Clarence Nywening, Farmer from Thamesville Area.
Much has been said and written lately about the impact of the loss of the use of crop protection inputs. Some have gone so far as to say that the family farm is in danger if farmers lose access to some of the inputs. Sadly, the conversation so far hasn’t shown much faith in Ontario’s farm community.
But to farmers who attended a recent SoilSmart conference, presenters made a good case for the practice of farming with fewer inputs and the positive impact on the family farm. There are great examples of farmers who have eliminated virtually all chemical inputs by making changes to their cropping practices. Those attending the conference were shown how farming with fewer chemical inputs on the farm can achieve improvements to soil health and resiliency, biodiversity, profitability and family life.
One producer from Ohio explained to the audience how by eliminating much, if not all of the chemical product that is used in conventional farming through the use of cover crops, animal manure and good rotation practices, he has been able to increase soil health, increase yields and increase profits per acre. The increase in profitability has enabled him to cut the number of acres he farms to make a living down to one third of the acreage he needed with conventional farming. Rather than growing crops on 3000 acres, he now farms 1000 acres and is able to enjoy spending more time with his family.
It’s real life examples like that, that should make us take a hard look at what we have been told for so many years by conventional farm proponents, who will continue to state that any deviation from the status quo is detrimental to us as family farmers. It reminds me of a quote from George Bernard Shaw, “Those who say it can’t be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
Sometimes we forget that net income is more important than bushels harvested. Every run you don’t have to make across the field is money in your pocket. Every gallon of product not bought is money in your pocket. I am confident that Ontario’s family farmers can handle the challenge.