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Working together to Protect Water

Working together to Protect Water

By Zippy Duvall

Millions of Americans in the western United States continue to struggle with the effects of persistent drought. Even families living in areas not impacted by the hot, dry weather are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of protecting this precious resource as they see communities suffer from the dry conditions.

Water keeps our bodies healthy, grows the food we need to survive and helps bring balance to all of nature. To put it simply, water is life.

Perhaps no one knows that better than the farmer. We look to the skies for rain and rely on waterways to help us grow crops and keep animals healthy as we work to feed America’s families. That’s why protecting this resource is such a priority.

Doing their part

Modern farming techniques have enabled farmers and ranchers to feed millions of people, using fewer resources than just a generation ago. We’re also using science to ensure fertilizer and pesticides intended for healthy crops don’t make their way into streams and rivers.

I had the pleasure of meeting a young farm family last summer in Iowa who models the kind of care farmers across the country are committed to.

While the small children wanted me to meet their new piglets, their daddy was interested in showing me how he was protecting water on and near his farm.

His cornfields were planted using a no-till method, which reduces erosion and helps trap carbon in the soil. Buffer strips around his fields help keep runoff from entering nearby streams.

The family was just as proud to show me what looked like an ordinary field of grass near one of their crops. But it’s what was underneath they were so proud of. Buried underground were wood chips, which are part of a bioreactor.

It sounds high-tech, but the process is amazingly simple yet extremely effective. As water seeps from the field, it’s filtered through large underground troughs of wood chips, which absorb almost all of the nitrogen from the run-off before it continues to a nearby waterway.

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