BOISE, Idaho - Growing cover crops in the off-season, and more organic production: Those are two recommendations for farmers in a new report that looks at ways to help farmers save money, boost production and aid the environment.
Eliav Bitan, agriculture adviser with the National Wildlife Federation, who co-authored the report, says cover crops minimize soil erosion, provide food for many game bird species, and reduce fertilizer use in the next crop year.
"And that crop will grow. It'll soak up any of those extra nutrients, it'll die, and it'll return those nutrients to the soil so the farmer can use those nutrients next year."
Bitan says there are challenges because the types of cover crops that can thrive in Idaho's climate when irrigation water is not available are limited. The report makes seven recommendations for agricultural production, including the use of on-farm anaerobic digesters to treat animal waste, and reduced tilling.
Bitan says organic produce is still gaining in popularity with consumers, and organic farming practices are becoming more profitable.
"A farmer can benefit on the bottom line by reducing their fertilizer costs, or their herbicide costs, the same time as wildlife can benefit, the same time as the water quality can benefit."
The report says organic farming requires 60 percent less energy than traditional methods.
The full report, "Future Friendly Farming: Seven Agricultural Practices to Sustain People and the Environment," is at tinyurl.com/3o9lyxt.