Today is Earth Day. A day to celebrate this planet we call home. But it's more than just a planet, and it's definitely worthy of more than a single day of celebration.
It's a funny world we live in -- this Earth of ours. We remind people one day a year to care for those natural resources around us, and seem to spend the majority of the rest of the year is spent either taking advantage of those resources, or condemning those that are already the most vested in its care.
Yes, I am talking about agriculture. Every day -- day in, day out -- farmers around the world think about the Earth. We consider the soil and what it needs; we consider the crops that are growing and what they need; and we consider the water available and how we can protect it.
But that's not what we hear about. We hear about giant farms, abuse of the land, abuse of resources -- nothing could be further from the truth.
Water quality is a top priority. The water on and around our farms is the water that we use to drink every day, to water our cattle, to nurture our crops. Making sure our water is safe and protected is important to us. The water we have today is the water for our future generations as well.
Providing habitat for wildlife comes naturally to farms and ranches. Through improved technology and management practices, such as buffer strips and reducing tillage, we are able to not only provide more habitat, but many farms have seen an increase in wildlife.
Soil quality is also a priority. The soil provides our livelihood -- whether it is from growing crops for us to harvest, or growing grass to feed our cattle. We take measures to ensure that the soil does not erode, that soil health is as high as can be, and that we use as few chemicals as possible. The soil we have today is also the soil for our future generations.
Farms recycle. Farms repurpose. Farms reuse wherever we can. That's a trait that has been around since the beginning of time. And it's one that we share with Mother Nature.
Earth Day is a worthy celebration. It's great to remind people of the blessings we've been given, and the need to preserve what we have been charged to maintain. It is our duty to ensure these gifts are also available for the next generation to enjoy.
But, Earth Day should not be limited to one day. It takes a lifetime of commitment to ensure that our resources are protected for our children and grandchildren. And it takes constant reminders to keep us on task, as well as being aware of our surroundings and changes in nature.
I can attest that there are few people that are reminded more constantly than farmers and ranchers. There are few people that have the daily interaction and reliance upon a resource that we have so little control over. There are few people that are more in tune to what the soil needs, to what is happening to our water, to what is important for the future.
Yes, Earth Day is every day -- especially on a farm.
Val and her husband, Mark, farm in rural North Dakota, growing corn, soybeans, wheat and hay as well as raising cattle and four busy boys. Val is passionate about agriculture and writes for several publications, as well as blogging at wagfarms.com.