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NOBLE NEWS

from the Noble Research Institute

Q: Were farming practices of the early and mid-1900s more eco-friendly than modern agriculture? Ask the expert: James Locke serves as a soils and crops consultant for the Noble Research Institute and is certified as a crop adviser by the American Society of Agronomy.

Modern farmers and ranchers work to improve soil health and reduce erosion potential by implementing reduced or no-tillage farming practices, adding cover crops, and increasing crop rotation. Agriculture’s progress benefits both mankind and the environment. In some ways “yes,” and in other ways “no.” On the one hand, agricultural producers in the early and mid-1900s used fewer synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. They utilized more green manure crops (which we call cover crops today) to provide nitrogen fixation and weed suppression, which provided greater plant diversity. Most operations were diversified to 44 — Oklahoma Country

include an animal component to provide meat, milk and eggs. On the other hand, while fewer pesticides were used, those pesticides were not well tested or regulated. They were often very toxic, and most are no longer on the market. Perhaps the most significant difference was the lack of conservation tillage used. In that era, clean tillage was widely

believed to be the only way to farm. The resulting bare soil and destruction of soil structure allowed significant soil erosion. Also, little crop rotation was practiced. Farmers typically planted a primary cash crop on the same ground year after year, often without replacing the nutrients removed. These practices greatly exacerbated the effects of drought in the 1930s and made the Dust Bowl much worse.

Oklahoma Country – Spring 2018  

Oklahoma Country is the official magazine of Oklahoma Farm Bureau. Our spring issue highlights the importance of the state agriculture sales...

Oklahoma Country – Spring 2018  

Oklahoma Country is the official magazine of Oklahoma Farm Bureau. Our spring issue highlights the importance of the state agriculture sales...