7 Options to Make Your Homestead More Eco-Friendly
By Megan Wild
Given the recent emphasis on homesteading and self-sustainable living, as well as increasing interest in environmental protection and preservation, homesteaders and farmers of today have a lot to consider. Not only will their actions affect the future of our nation’s farms, but they will also have an impact on food quality and production across the United States.
Rotate Your Crops
Crop rotation is a technique that has been used by highly successful farmers for centuries. Rotating your crops on a seasonal basis provides many benefits, but the practice ultimately serves to maintain the health and nutrition of your farmland’s soil.
Potatoes, for instance, can produce specific fungi that damages future potatoes. In order to circumvent this, farmers simply plant their crops in different positions than the previous year. The fungi doesn’t attack other crops, but planting more potatoes in the same spot will doom them.
Switch to Modern Fuels
Using biodiesel in your farm equipment can go a long way in cutting down on the harmful emissions produced by heavy-duty engines. In fact, studies from the EPA have shown that the emissions of farm implements that use a blend with only 20 percent biodiesel produce lower levels of unburned hydrocarbon materials, carbon monoxide and particular matter when compared to other fuels.
Manage the Grazing Habits of Animals
The act of managed or rotational grazing can be likened to crop rotation for live animals. Instead of forcing livestock to graze from the same fields day in and day out, proactive farmers use several different fields, one at a time, as a means of lowering their feed bills, promoting healthy grass and reducing the overall number of parasites on the land. Many common farm animals, especially cows, goats, sheep and geese, can even serve as a replacement for your gas-powered lawnmower.
Use Rebuilt Equipment
A common misconception surrounds used and rebuilt equipment, particularly farm implements. Some tend to believe that rebuilt hardware is somehow subpar. After all, it had to be rebuilt in the first place. However, some rebuilt equipment can actually be equipped with emissions compliant features such as new transmission systems, new torque converters and, in some cases, brand new engines.
Compost as Much as Possible
While some of us are already using small-scale compost heaps to reduce our overall household waste, farmers can utilize larger compost heaps to offset of their farm’s environmental impact. Composting horse manure, greenhouse waste and other types of organic materials can improve crop yields on farms of all sizes.
Modernize Your Equipment
Tractors and vehicles aren’t the only machines that can stand to benefit from modernization. Upgrading, renovating or rebuilding barns for farm animals, installing new and updated storage containers and even getting new hand tools can all play a role in decreasing your farms’ carbon footprint.
According to a survey conducted by the Journal of Extension, dairy farms throughout the state of Wisconsin have enjoyed great success following the modernization of their dairy farm equipment. Not only has it vastly reduced the amount of laborers needed to tend to the farm, but most farms are able to expand their territory even further after installing modern equipment.
Reuse the Runoff Water From Your Farm
You can reuse the runoff from your farm in many ways. Advanced filtering systems can be used to clean and recycle the runoff, which can then be used to water crops. However, such water should always be treated or filtered before reusing, as it can contain any number of harmful and hazardous chemicals.
To Protect and Preserve
Since the issue affects us all, the duty of protecting and preserving our environment is a movement that anyone can join. Whether we’re new-age homesteaders, traditional farmers or even average homeowners, we can all contribute to the future of our environment.
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