Montana Free Press - Common Ground Part 3

READ: Common Ground Part 3 here

Publication: Montana Free Press

By Emily Stifler Wolfe

Wind and water have eroded Montana soils since the first plow
turned earth on the Northern Plains more than 150 years ago, taking with
them one of the state’s most important resources. Since then, tillage,
plus the fertilizer and pesticides common in industrial agriculture,
have continued to degrade the soil that agriculture depends on. With
climate change threatening almost 25,000 Montana agricultural jobs
in the next 50 years, many farmers, ranchers and researchers believe
the status quo is no longer adequate. And though conventional farming continues to account for the overwhelming majority of Montana’s $4.6 billion ag sector, things are shifting.

Organic has been a USDA certification since
2002, while regenerative lacks a codified or even consensus definition,
but generally includes a suite of techniques like cover cropping, crop
rotation and livestock integration that decrease erosion, improve
biodiversity and capture carbon. Both systems have challenges and
shortfalls, which are considered here, but a growing number of Montana
producers are using them to build topsoil, become more resilient to
drought, capture carbon and increase profits.

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