Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Acres USA conference in Omaha, NE. It was a great trip! I love long drives, and the 8 hours from Champaign to Omaha was perfect!
I very much enjoy attending talks by forward thinking scientists and farmers. This year I saw: Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute, Dr. Don Huber of Purdue University, Neal Kinsey of Kinsey Ag Services, Bob Yanda, David Vetter, Dr. Arden Andersen, Dr. Emmanuel Omondi of Rodale, and Denise O’Brien. What a list!
Each of these experts spoke on vastly different topics ranging from farming systems trials to the sociological make-up of new farmers. Yet, they each seemed to touch on the same, unifying theme, everything goes back to the environment. The environment in which we live determines nearly every aspect of our lives.
- How does a seed germinate? Environmental conditions are right: moisture, temperature, light.
- What causes weed problems? Environmental conditions are right: moisture, temperature, nutrient content of the soil, compaction level of soil, neighboring plants.
- How do plants take in nutrients? Environmental conditions are right: soil microbes feed on root exudates from the plant, humic acid content of soil aids in breakdown and transport of nutrients by bacteria, fungal hyphae transport nutrients into the plant roots; this requires proper moisture, aeration, and nutrient content.
- How do I maintain a healthy body? Environmental conditions are right: take in a nutritious and balanced diet, properly feed gut bacteria for nutrient synthesis, exercise, get enough sleep, live where you can see the stars.
Environmental conditions even affect human gene expression. Longitudinal studies have demonstrated that the diets of our grandparents have an effect on our own cardiovascular health outcomes. Certain cancer genes require environmental conditions to be triggered into expressing cancer growth.
The interconnectedness of ourselves and our entire environment is mind-blowing. It is so important that we continue to learn more about how our environment affects nearly every experience we have, from the growth of our food to the quality of our night sleep. It is even more imperative that we are excellent stewards of the environment we have inherited, and pass it along to our children thusly improved.