In its purest sense, sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In other words, producing enough food for today, while also ensuring the ability to feed the world tomorrow.
Research and technology have brought continuous improvements to farming practices so today’s farmers can grow crops using less land and fewer inputs. South Dakota soybean farmers care just as much as you do about the future of our land and natural resources. They do everything they can to grow soybeans in a sustainable manner and protect the land that grows our food.
Sustainable farming is a way of farming that looks to the future. It has formally been around for about 25 years, when the USDA first legally defined it.
Sustainable agriculture seeks to enhance agriculture as a whole over the long term through:
- Adequate supply of food and fiber
- Efficient use of non-renewable resources
- Prosperity of the land and natural resources
- Quality of life for farmers and the community
- Economic viability of farm operations
South Dakota soybean farmers take pride in planning for the future in everything they do. For them, continuous improvement means using new technology to be as precise as possible with seed planting and pesticides, while decreasing the amount of fuel and water used in farming.
Precision agriculture is a way of farming that uses technology to increase the efficiency of time and resources, thus protecting the environment.
One field can contain many different soil types, diseases, pest pressures, nutrients and moisture levels. The idea behind precision agriculture is to manage that field based on what it needs to grow a successful crop.
Farmers use GPS or aerial photography to map out their fields. They overlay that map with information gained from soil samples, which include moisture and nutrient levels.
Modern equipment can have technology installed that makes everything more precise, so as farmers ride through the field, their equipment uses the information from their soil samples to apply only as much product or seed as that soil needs. This reduces any excess materials from being used where they are not needed and improves the health and stability of the soil.
Most South Dakota farmers know the secret to a successful farm is in preserving the land. Many families have kept the farm in their families for many generations because they adopted new technology and conservation practices that helped conserve natural resources and keep the land farmable for decades.
We asked some of our favorite South Dakota farmers what they think about sustainability and what practices they’ve adopted to keep their land healthy for generations to come.
“Technologies such as GPS enable us to do more with precision farming. We’re able to do more precise seed and fertilizer placement, and application of products. It enables us to analyze data and see which practices are beneficial, which ones aren’t so that we’re only using the inputs we need to, making it more sustainable and keeping the land healthy.” – Monica, farmer from Claremont
“Technology has had a great impact on sustainability. Through the use of GPS and variable rate technology along with yield mapping, we are able to apply the right amount of nutrients and the right amount of seed on every acre we farm. We try to maximize its ability to produce and that allows us to avoid runoff and using extra nutrients on the field.” – Neal, farmer from Ethan