New CTIC Board of Directors Announced
Make plans to attend the CTIC Conservation In Action Tour 2010
- Mainland Farm, an example of a typical farmstead from the early 1600s, struggling to win the battle of preservation against growth and development pressure;
- Renwood Fields, owned and operated by the Hula family, living proof that profitability and natural resources conservation go hand in hand;
- the Archer Ruffin farm for discussions about agriculture’s responsibility for stewardship, carbon markets and profitable conservation;
- lunch at the Shirley Plantation, the oldest family-owned business in North America;
- the Carter farm where no-till cotton grows successfully in cool soil temperatures; and
- a series of presentations at the Paul Davis farm. These will include how agriculture will play a significant role in removing water quality impairments in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and what Clean Water Act and Total Maximum Daily Load regulations could mean to agriculture and the region.
The day will end with a steak dinner on the banks of the Pamunkey River, a major tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. Plan to join us on Aug. 2 for a social event the evening before the one-day tour. Lodging and travel details will be available soon on the CTIC Web site, www.ctic.org. To become a valued sponsor of this event, contact CTIC at 765-494-9555.
New CTIC publication to detail environmental benefits of agricultural biotechnology
A new booklet developed by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) — “Facilitating Conservation Farming Practices and Enhancing Environmental Sustainability with Agricultural Biotechnology” — digs deep into the data surrounding the adoption of biotech crops.
Among many important statistics, the document describes:
- The projected growth of the global population to 9 billion by 2040;
- The 69-percent increase in no-till farming since the 1996 introduction of herbicide-resistant crops;
- A drop in herbicide usage of 47.4 million pounds of active ingredient where herbicide-tolerant soybeans or cotton were planted in the United States in 2007;
- The replacement of 8.67 million pounds of insecticide active ingredient in 2007 where U.S. growers planted insect-resistant cotton and corn varieties;
- Reductions in soil loss of 90 percent or more, and reduced movement of phosphorus by more than 70 percent where no-till is used;
- The capture of billions of pounds of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in conservation-tilled soils across the United States
The new document is the latest in a vast library created by CTIC throughout its 28-year history as a repository for information on conservation farming practices.
“The document really explores the breadth of the environmental benefits of conservation tillage practices, which are facilitated significantly by biotechnology crops,” says Karen A. Scanlon, executive director of CTIC in West Lafayette, Ind. “We’ve been seeing extremely positive and informative data on improvements in soil, water and air quality, including large potential impacts on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
The United Soybean Board (USB) funded the paper, which updates a document prepared by CTIC in 2003. Since the original paper was published, studies have explored emerging issues such as the effect of tillage practices on carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas releases, as well as other environmental impacts of conservation farming practices, notes Dr. Rich Joost, Director of Production Research for USB in Chesterfield, Mo.
Collecting data from researchers around the world in a single, concise, readable document provides growers with important talking points about the benefits of their management choices, Joost says – insight that can help other stakeholders understand the dramatic improvements in environmental sustainability and productivity over the past several years.
“The bottom line is growers make decisions that help them do a good job and remain economically successful, but at the same time, they’re also doing things that are good for the environment,” Joost says. “But they don’t always have the information at their fingertips that allows them to communicate those benefits to policy people and neighbors.”
David Wilson, a producer from Lincoln, Ala., who chairs USB’s Sustainability Committee, puts it in personal terms.
“We started no-tilling in 1974, and we did it because the savings in fuel and the savings of horsepower per acre,” he notes, pointing out that the current focus on greenhouse gases highlights an unforeseen benefit of those reductions. “We figure we’re saving approximately four gallons of fuel per acre, and that amounts to about 22 pounds per gallon of carbon that’s not put into the air.”
People both on and off the farm often overlook the environmental benefits of biotech, adds Mike Thede, a Palmer, Neb., grower who heads USB’s Sustainability Initiative.
“Biotechnology has increased the ability of the nation’s fields to be able to continue to produce on a high level, and has reduced the amount of environmentally negative impacts,” he points out. The new document delivers data to support the point, as well as a detailed list of academic references.
The paper, which was reviewed by a multi-disciplinary panel of experts, is available online at www.ctic.org/BiotechSustainability or in hard copy by calling CTIC at 765-494-9555.
The new document complements other elements of USB’s extensive online library of information on agricultural biotechnology, which is accessible at www.unitedsoybean.org/programs/biotechnology.aspx.