See more from this Session: Supporting Ecosystem Services with Conservation Agriculture: II
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Hall C, Street Level
Integrated approaches are required to achieve a sustainable farming system of soil, water, air, plant, animal, and human resources. The key approach to achieving integrated sustainable management is to think system (ecosystem, whole farm, and watershed), think critically (connect the dots), actively seek resource opportunities, emphasize technology “exchange” vs. “transfer” with other producers and partners, plan creatively and flexibly, and focus on keeping energy flow through the integrated system. Case studies, field trials, demonstrations are all important approaches for technology exchange. Interdisciplinary teams including producers and partners are essential in developing integrated sustainable farming systems. NRCS provides resource inventory, technical assistance and training for planners, partners and producers on “how-to” evaluate and understand site-specific field conditions, including chemical, biological and physical. This enables us to evaluate and implement best management practices/approaches for cropland management within an integrated farming system. Considering how the farm fits into broader watershed management (e.g. off-site effects and resource opportunities) is also essential to problem-posing and problem-solving resource management success and development of sustainable communities. Success stories of integrated approaches and an overview of available resources will be provided. The in-progress NRCS Sustainable Cropping Systems Handbook lays out the groundwork for understanding and improving soil quality, water quality, air quality, nutrient and salinity management, crop yield and quality, irrigation water management, integrated pest management. The multi-agency “Soil Change Guide: Procedures for Soil Survey and Resource Inventory” and “Interagency Ecological Site Description Manual” provide systematic procedures for examining, quantifying, dynamics within soils and plant communities. In addition, they provide systems to record observations, data management schema and ways to analyze relationships and develop trends and risk models. These new guides provide the tools for conservationists to assess soil health and develop long-term sustainable conservation plans for our nation’s farms and ranches.