The conservation section of the September issue of Wallaces Farmer has an article out of place. Rod Swoboda’s “Residue to play a big energy role” should be in the “Mining the soil” section, if there was one. There is just one sentence about conservation in the article: “They leave enough residue on the field to protect the soil from erosion.” Nobody who has farmed Iowa soil could honestly say that.
Farming has become more about forcing a market to exist than providing raw materials for essential uses. This has led to such things as cellulosic ethanol produced from crop residues that, if left in place, enable valuable soil life to survive through the winter and rivers to run clear.
This September issue features a family that actually leaves a clover stand for an entire season to heal the land injured from farming practices in the same vein as practices needed for cellulosic ethanol from corn fodder. Can you imagine not getting a crop for a year and even bearing the expense of seeding a cover crop because of past negligent farming practices. It’s shameful.
Further on in the same issue is an article on Secretary Tom Visack’s “New era for soil conservation.” This article outlines $1.2 billion of taxpayer money to be spent to ameliorate damage done by farmers who farm the cellulosic ethanol way.
The soil, that is the lifeblood of the Iowa economy, would benefit best through elimination of all federal involvement. What started out as well-intentioned protections and incentives has become a crony-capitalist boondoggle that destroys the soil and tries to protect it at the same time. Farmers who know the value of soil will farm it in such a way that they can turn a profit with healthy soil for the long haul.
Sorry to say, Iowa farmers have a long way to go to live up to the praises of the media and politicians who call us stewards of the land.