Conservation progress impacts public perception of agriculture

By Steven Schauer for PPF

Agriculture is more than just farmers working the land to grow and harvest crops each year. It’s about taking care of the soil that grows those crops which feed our local communities and those thousands of miles away.

Bob Bultman is learning more about what farmers in Door County are doing to preserve and make the soil healthier. The Door County board supervisor and member of the Land Conservation Committee attended a Peninsula Pride Farms Conservation Conversation field event in late April to learn more about cover crops and soil biology.

“Regenerative agriculture is something I have been reading a lot about,” Bultman said. “Restoring our soils and maintaining high levels of soil fertility is within our abilities. It’s a matter of making decisions that keep the soil life healthy. We live in a country where people who work the land have broad latitude in their choices and intensities of land practices. Intensification of agricultural practices increases stressors on the soil health ecosystem and some are trying to play catch up wit better management systems. It was really uplifting to see that people really want to learn about regenerative agriculture and the PPF event was just a small sampling.”

Members of PPF have made a collaborative effort to protect, nurture and sustain the precious soil, water and air in the Door Peninsula. They have made conservation advancements each year since the group was formed in 2016. Most recently, an analysis showed members implemented 18,246 acres of cover crops and 21,310 acres of conservation tillage (strip or no-till). They also have miles of harvestable buffer strips that protect waterways from potential harmful runoff.

“There are always opportunities to do things better and my hats off to the older farmers who are open enough to try these regenerative practices,” Bultman said. “It’s a credit to them for getting outside their comfort zone and listening to a new perspective or seeing a new way of farming. It’s a credit to the folks who do stay open to learning more and I think learning keeps you young.”

PPF’s Conservation Conversation in April was hosted by Mike Vandenhouten and attended by a variety of younger and older farmers, and members of the public who wanted to learn more about soil health. The informal Conservation Conversations began in 2020 as a way to connect farmers with each other and the public to discuss and demonstrate groundbreaking conservation practices.

“I think anything we can do to connect people to farmers is a good thing,” Bultman said. “Far too many people don’t know where their food comes from. The more PPF can do to have these sorts of events the public can attend and learn is a good thing. I salute PPF for welcoming everybody to educational events. It is imporant that the public comes and learns as well. Learning new things keeps you young and fresh and flexible. We need to be flexible because it’s what leads us to being resilient.”

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