April 20, 2010

Recognition of Earth Day should include farmers

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day occurs this week – on Thursday to be exact.

While it is a day that was started to inspire awareness and a better appreciation of the environment, it should include the contributions made by farmers every year, the Nebraska Corn Board said in a news release.

“There are a great number of people who should be recognized for their efforts, and farmers should rank right up there with them,” said Alan Tiemann, a farmer from Seward who is chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Farmers have worked with soil and water since the first seed was planted in the ground, and every year we work to become more efficient and produce more corn for feed, food, fuel and fiber on every acre we plant.”

Back when Earth Day was started in 1970, Nebraska farmers harvested well below 100 bushels of corn per acre. Over the last three years, however, farmers in the state have averaged more than 160 bushels per acre. Many farmers averaged well above 200 bushels.

“This increase in productivity allows us to produce more corn with less water, less fertilizer and less energy,” Tiemann said. “The ability to produce more with less has also allowed farmers to help develop new markets for corn, including those that allow corn products to replace similar products made from oil.”

Ethanol, which replaces petroleum-based gasoline, is one example, and corn-based PLA, which replaces petroleum-based plastics and fabrics, is another. The Nebraska Corn Board noted that both are cleaner and greener and come from agriculture.

“In the future there will be many more products made from corn and other agriculture crops that will replace those that are oil-based,” Tiemann said.

While farmers are beginning to make their biggest investment for the year – to plant more than 9 million acres across the state – Tiemann said his goal, as it is every year, is to raise a crop better than in the past. “Each year we have a better understanding and become more efficient,” he said. “It’s what we as farmers do and have always done. It’s why every day is Earth Day for a farmer.”

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