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Precision ag as environmental savior


If you watch this two-minute YouTube clip of the new documentary, Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story, you might get the same queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach that I did. It seemed like agriculture was about to take another unfair hit.

But toward the end of the clip, precision agriculture – as well as other innovations – gets a shout-out as a proactive solution to environmental challenges facing agriculture.

Love it or hate it, the controversial documentary is worth watching. Click here to see the whole hour-long video, which was shown across Minnesota in early October on public television stations.

The documentary gives agriculture a heap of blame for the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that results from nitrogen pouring from the Mississippi River. It also skewers ag for nitrates in groundwater and sedimentation of lakes and waterways.

It also highlights efforts by farmers to minimize nutrient and soil losses – including practices used by Fairmont, MN, farmers Dick and Jack Gerhardt. The Gerhardts use precision strip till to reduce erosion and fertilizer needs. They also utilize an infrared sensor system to measure and apply their corn’s nitrogen fertilizer needs.

At the least, it was refreshing to see farmers and cutting-edge technology positioned as part of the solution. Take a look.

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