Sustainable Land Management
March 19, 2013
Michael Fields has been involved in helping farmers gain the resources, expertise, and research-based strategies to manage land profitably while preserving and enhancing its principal assets for future agricultural use. For nearly two decades, MFAI researchers have conducted work on biodynamic agriculture practices and were principal partner in research trials that tested cover crops, pest management, soil building, and other strategies in cropping and crop-livestock systems Integrated Farming Systems. Our Whole Farm Workshops and other educational programming teaches farmers how to build soil organic matter, implement management-intensive grazing, compost, raise pollinators, grow crops in a permaculture system, and pursue a host of other practices that care for the land and build its agricultural value for today‘s farmers and future generations. The Whole Farm Workshops and our policy program works to support conservation programs like the NRCS’s Conservation Stewardship Program or state programs that support managed grazing
Many partners and agency resources exist to assist landowners and farmers seeking information and technical assistance in sustainable land management. Information on cover crops include UW Soil Science Extension, Midwest Cover Crop Council, and National Sustainable Agriculture: Overview of Cover Crop and Green Manures. The USDA’s local NRCS offices have agents able to help you develop a plan to cover crops, animal manures, or add more crops to your rotation. Transitioning to a permanent agriculture can be called agroforestry, permaculture, alley cropping, or restoration agriculture. Instead of annual monocultures, permaculture emphasizes the cultivation of perennial polycultures (trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and grazed pastures) to minimize soil erosion, reliance on annual crops, and reliance on fossil fuels. For more information see permaculture news or alley cropping. Many farmers want to know how to convert to organic production. Growing numbers of consumers are willing to pay for the benefits offered by organic farming, and certified organic products bring a premium. Research has demonstrated yields in organic systems that are competitive with conventional systems and yield advantages in drought years. For more information on organic production methods, read this brochure about Information on Organic Agriculture for Farmers, Ranchers and Businessess; SARE Transitioning to Organic Production; Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service. From its founding, MFAI has undertaken research and education on biodynamic practices, which are based on the teachings and insights of Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) and take a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach. For more information on biodynamics, visit www.biodynamics.com or www.demeter-usa.org.