Mother Nature has hand in farming practices

Staff Writer
The Steuben Courier Advocate

One of the latest trends in farming is “conservation buffers” -- large sections of grass and trees planted along streams, lakes and fields to help protect soil, air and water quality and improve fish and wildlife habitat. Buffers work by slowing water runoff, trapping sediment, and enhancing water infiltration in the buffer itself. This prevents potential pollutants from reaching surface or ground water sources.

Other modern-day erosion control methods are more subtle. Alfalfa is a soil-friendly crop used for cow feed that doesn’t need to be replanted each year. Because the plants remain in the ground year-round, annual plowing isn’t necessary, therefore, the topsoil is left protected.

Farm to Parks

The nutrients in dairy wastewater are perfect for growing trees, such as poplars.

Plant scientists and engineers have joined forces to help farmers put fast-growing trees to work. Trees act as a natural cleaning process for soil and water as they absorb the excess nutrients in manure and naturally break down harmful chemicals, while at the same time reducing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

As a bonus, trees provide noise and odor buffers, while making farms look like parks.


Alternative energy is all the buzz these days and dairy farmers are caught up in it, too.

On some farms methane digesters are used to collect methane gas released from manure and convert it to energy. This "biogas" is a renewable fulel that can be used to generate electricity for both the dairy farm and the local community.

Article and picture courtesy of