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Clean water matters to farmers

Clean water matters to farmers
Farmers should tell others how much you care about natural resources

By Donya Lester

(Editor's note: This is another in a series of articles about views Donya Lester expressed while addressing the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Lester is executive director of the Purdue University Ag Alumni Association and farms with her husband, Dan, in Montgomery County.)

I'm not afraid to tell someone, usually someone not directly connected with farming, that we farm using fertilizers and chemicals. It gives me a chance to educate them.

We are careful about following labels and about everything else we do in relation to applying chemicals and fertilizer. Why are we careful?

Clean water: People who farm and get their water from wells where they live have more reason to care about proper use of chemicals and fertilizer than anyone else.

That's simple. My water comes from a well located right there on the farm. If anyone has a vested interest in making sure the water stays clean and isn't polluted with chemicals, it's us.

Economic angle
Besides that, we also pay the bills for chemicals and fertilizer that we use in our farming operation. We don't want one drop of that chemical or fertilizer to go anywhere other than where it is supposed to go. We want every drop of any chemical and fertilizer we apply on our farm to do what we bought it to do, and what it is supposed to do.

So we're careful with chemicals, fertilizer and all of our farming input for two reasons. We're careful because they cost money and budgets are tight. But we also care about our local environment. The ones of us who live in the country and drink the water here are the ones who care most about natural resources. We are the real people that care.

Related: Why farmers protect a 'good piece of dirt'

It's time we told our story more often to the public. Our work as farmers is never done, because there are always more people to educate about subjects like soil and water conservation. We need to let them see our faces. As farmers we've got lots of work to do.

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