Farmers rely on good, fertile soil to be successful. Without it, they simply cannot produce enough food to ensure our grocery store shelves are fully stocked.
“Soil is the well spring of future income for the grower, and if we did not have modern tools we would have to revert to more tillage and other practices that are unsustainable,” says agronomist Mark Goodwin.
Before farmers had access to crop protection products to control weeds, Goodwin says, they used to till, or plough, their fields to get rid of the weeds. This was hard on the soil, however. It would break down organic matter and make the soil more susceptible to being swept away by water or wind.
With today’s technology this has changed. The creation of herbicide tolerant crops means that farmers can spray pesticides to control weeds and then leave the plant matter from harvested crops in the ground to decompose, thus enriching the soil.
Ontario farmer Don McCabe says the new technologies that have made tillage a thing of the past are a great thing. It means farmers no longer have to worry about losing soil like they did in the dirty thirties, when wind storms would blow huge amounts of soil off farmers’ fields causing them to lose one of their most valuable assets.
“No-till practices mean that we’re enhancing the soil quality and making sure that we’re doing a better job for tomorrow because we learned from yesterday,” McCabe explained.