Agriculture in Earth Day
Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22nd. It is important that everyone understands the positive impact we can all have on the Earth even by doing the smallest things. By changing even the littlest thing in our everyday lives we will start to conserve our planet’s resources even more. In agriculture, we are able to put many sustainable practices into place. Agriculture is very important in order to keep the population growing and keep everyone fed.
Earth Day is a great way for farmers and other people involved in agriculture to showcase the practices they use every day to help keep the planet healthy. Farmers are able to use practices that save water, protect our land, and help wildlife. Farmers know how important our natural resources are so they do everything they can to preserve and not disrupt them. According to USDA and EPA data, farmers have cut greenhouse gas emissions from providing each of your meals by 24% since 1990. Farmers want to protect all aspects of the environment in order to grow the food and products we need to survive. For example, crop farmers may rotate the different crops they grow in order to replenish the soil with the nutrients certain plants are consuming. Many farmers also replenish nutrients in the soil by planting cover crops. Cover crops are crops planted in the off-season to replenish the soil and protect it from erosion. Also to help replenish the soil, farmers will use the manure from their livestock as fertilizer. By doing this they are minimizing nutrient pollution to water resources and helping build healthy soils. These are just a few of the things farmers do to protect our Earth.
Celebrate Earth Day with fun agricultural educational activities! One way to show them how cover crops work is to make a cover crop monster. While making cover crop monsters the students will learn about germination, growth, root structures, and conservation practices. In order to make these, you will need a nylon sock, ryegrass seed, potting soil, small elastic hair bands, a plastic cup, and googly eyes.
First, fill the toe of your sock with a teaspoon of grass seed and top it with potting soil until you have a ball shape, then tightly fasten it with a knot close to the soil. Next, form a nose and two ears securing them with an elastic band to hold them in place. Then, stand the ball in the plastic cup with the grass seed at the top and add the eyes or any other decorations you would like. Lastly, add water to the cup and keep it filled. The grass seeds will sprout in 3-4 days and make some wild hairdos! Once you are done, talk to your students about how the roots of the cover crop help hold the soil in place and also replenish the soil with nutrients as they decay. Also, livestock farmers may put their cattle out to graze the cover crops which reduces the supply of feed needed for them. Doing fun activities like this one teaches the kids how farmers are contributing to sustainable practices. The link below has more directions on the Cover Crop Monsters and also other activities.