Climate change is causing greater environmental and economic challenges for U.S. agriculture. But did you know that soil health practices can help working farmlands become more resilient to climate extremes?
Some of these practices, such as cover crops and no-till farming, can contribute to fighting climate change. According to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture, Maryland and Delaware farmers are leaders in practices that protect and promote healthy soils. Cover crops and no-till farming are huge in both states. To put some numbers to it, 29% of Maryland and 19% of Delaware cropland acres were reported ‘under cover’ in 2017. In comparison, only 3.9% of cropland acres in the United States were planted with cover crops that year. Additionally, the highest reported use of no-till on cropland acres in the country occurs in Maryland (58%) and Delaware (54%).
A new documentary film, “Delmarva and the Ground for Change,” by the USDA Northeast Climate Hub digs deeper into these and other soil health practices. The film follows three family-owned farming operations on the Delmarva Peninsula (in Delaware and Maryland) who adopted various measures to enhance soil health. But “Delmarva and the Ground for Change” does not frame soil health practices as a silver bullet. Instead, the film elevates farmer knowledge and perspectives to show the complexities of modern-day farming systems. The documentary also reminds us that all farms have an important role to play in creating more resilient food systems in the face of current and expected climate change.
“I hope this film can inspire more farmers to cultivate resilient soils and increase public awareness on what some of our nation’s farmers are already doing to adapt to – and mitigate – climate change,” said Karrah Kwasnik, filmmaker, USDA Northeast Climate Hub.
Watch it now on USDA’s YouTube Channel.
The USDA Northeast Climate Hub is a unique collaboration across USDA agencies working in collaboration with partners to promote climate-informed decisions on farms and forests. For more information, contact email@example.com.