Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Sunday, April 22, 2012
ISSUE #704
Earth Day is special for farmers

This is Earth Day. People around the world are celebrating their accomplishments in saving and caring for the Earth’s resources.

Do you know who owns and manages more of the Earth’s land area than any other private entity? Farmers. In the U.S., that’s over 900 million acres of farm land.

If you live in town and all you grow are some flowers on a windowsill you know it takes some effort to get them to grow and bloom and flourish. Here’s a question for you: next spring, do you dump out the old soil and buy a new batch for the pot? Well, farmers can’t do that. The soil they have today is the same as they had last year and will be pretty much the same in ten years or fifty years, except for what they lose in dust storms and rain storms. So farmers have a special interest in keeping their topsoil in place and making it more productive.

We heard the “Occupy Wall Street” folks complain about the “1 percenters” with all the money  and how the other 99 percent deserved a big chunk of it. You might be surprised to learn about a totally different group of 1 percenters in this country. That 1 percent is the farmers that grow and provide the food for 98 percent of us.

A friend of mine, Ed Winkle, wrote me that the best thing he has ever done for conserving Earth’s resources, and saving his own farm, was learning to no-till. (In case you don’t know, no-till means the farmer plants directly into undisturbed soil rather than plowing it first. Weeds are controlled with a few ounces of herbicides.) Ed said his dad rented a no-till corn planter in 1976 and the farm has not been plowed since.  No-till saves soil, oil and toil and raises a profitable crop.

Good weather this spring has crops ahead of schedule. Almost half the corn has been planted and it ain’t even May. Wheat in the Plains states looks great. Last year, it was so dry in Texas and Oklahoma, a farmer had to cover ten acres to get enough wheat for a loaf of bread.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers: (35 yrs before the first Earth Day)

 “Flew through these dust storms last night with the pilot flying entirely by instruments. It’s a terrible thing, and it’s going to bring up some [peculiar] cases in law. If Colorado blows over and lights on top of Kansas, it looks like Kansas ought to pay for the extra topsoil. But Kansas can sue ‘em for covering up their crops… You’ve got to put a brand on your soil, then in the Spring go on a round-up looking for it.” DT #2697 March 28, 1935

 “We’re just now learning that we can rob from nature the same way as we can rob from an individual.  All (the pioneer) had was an ax, and a plow, and a gun, and he just went out and lived off nature.  But really, he thought it was nature he was living off of, but it was really future generations that he was living off of.” Radio, April 14, 1935

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