Recently, Cargill announced a new initiative set to drastically reduce water usage and improve water quality in critical areas around the world. By 2030, they plan to restore 159 billion gallons of water to priority watersheds. As one of the largest US-based ag companies, Cargill is hoping these changes can inspire similar actions across the industry.
While much of this water ultimately returns back to the environment, it’s often not in the same condition. When rain and irrigation water run from farmland back to local water supplies, it carries nutrients from fertilizer and pesticides that have been used on the soil. These nutrients can cause unnatural algae blooms, loss of wildlife, unsafe drinking water, and more.
Since the 1960s, the use of fertilizers and pesticides has become increasingly common in modern farming. The more damaged the soil is, the more fertilizer tends to be used. Unfortunately, damaged soil is also more susceptible to runoff and erosion, compounding the problem.
Today, approximately a half a ton of pesticides, 4 million tons of phosphorus fertilizer, and 12 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer are applied to US farmland every year. This has resulted in agriculture becoming the number one source of NPO pollution for rivers and streams. A recent study found the presence of at least one pesticide can be found in 94% of water samples taken from streams across the country.
One way that farmers can address these issues while still generating a profit on their land is through the Conservation Reserve Program.
Protecting Local Water Through CRP
CRP is a program under the USDA that pays farmers on-going rental payments in exchange for taking land out of active crop production and establishing native vegetation such as grasses, forbs, and pollinator-friendly species. Because CRP is established on marginal or otherwise underperforming land, farmers can potentially increase their earnings while restoring health to their land, providing habitat for wildlife, and protecting local water supplies.
CRP helps improve and protect local water quality in a number of ways. First and foremost, it restores health to soil. Native vegetation provides better coverage for soil, reducing wind and rain erosion. CRP seed is typically planted utilizing no-till methods. Tillage breaks up soil structure, reducing soil health, density, water-holding capacity, organic matter levels, and more. By eliminating the tilling process, soil is allowed to rejuvenate, and organic matter can build and thrive.
This ultimately creates stronger, healthier soil that won’t wash away in the rain. Native vegetation also doesn’t require fertilizer or pesticides, which means there’s no chance of them ending up in local water supplies. In fact, enrolling land in CRP has shown to reduce nitrogen runoff by 95% and phosphorus runoff by 85%.
While all CRP practices help improve water quality to a degree, certain practices place an increased emphasis on it. For example, practices under the CLEAR Initiative prioritize improving local water quality by reducing sediment loadings, nutrient loadings, and harmful algal blooms.
Whichever conservation practice you choose to enroll in, All Native Seed can make sure that you get the CRP seed you need. We’ve spent the past 17 years in the industry perfecting our seed quality across 370,000 acres of CRP establishment. All of our seed is reprocessed for enhanced purity and tested for harmful weeds such as Palmer amaranth.
With All Native Seed, you can expect the highest germination rates available. If you’re looking to improve soil health and protect local water through CRP, All Native Seed can help you succeed. Click here to browse our NRCS compliant seed mixes. If you need a quote on a mix developed by the NRCS, click here.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-224-2004.