By Thomas Driscoll, NFU Director of Conservation Policy and Education
As noted frequently here at the Climate Column (for example, in last week’s post on grassed waterways), preventing soil erosion is an important way farmers can adapt to and mitigate climate change. Impeding erosion improves soil health. This, in turn, allows soil to both store atmospheric carbon as well retain more moisture, which guards against drought conditions and counteracts the negative consequences of excess runoff during extreme precipitation events. Stripcropping also achieves these goals, while also protecting soil in between crop rows from wind erosion.
Stripcropping describes the process of planting strips of erosion-resistant crops or cover between strips of crops that are more susceptible to erosion. The strips are also arranged to be as close as conditions allow to perpendicular wind and water erosion forces. While management is more intense than with traditional stands, yield advantages are possible with more efficient use of acreage. Some crop combinations may also help with pest or disease management. Furthermore, when a producer introduces a new crop to the farm with stripcropping, diversifying agricultural products on the farm contributes to market resilience.
As with grassed waterways, The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) Conservation Practice Standard notes that the practice removes nutrients and pollutants from runoff, protecting local water quality. Stripcropping may also reduce airborne particulate matter emissions.
Would you consider stripcropping on your farm? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts and impressions on this practice in the comments section!
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