The National Corn Growers Association brought international attention to the sustainability of U.S. corn farming recently when Vice President of Production and Utilization Paul Bertels gave a presentation to Conservation International's Business and Sustainability Council.
Speaking to a broad range of representatives from influential international corporations and organizations such as Wal-Mart, Conservation International and members of the hospitality and banking communities, Bertels explained that U.S. corn farming is clearly sustainable as it continues to produce more crop using fewer inputs.
The overall conference addressed global sustainable agricultural trends and best practices and built a shared understanding of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems for long-term agricultural sustainability. Using data from the initial Field to Market: Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture study, along with information from other credible sources, Bertels walked the group, composed mainly of industry stakeholders unfamiliar with farming practices, through trends in U.S. production, emphasizing how yield increases and input decreases continually improve sustainability.
Looking at the components that factor into determinations of agricultural sustainability, Bertels noted that U.S. corn production has improved sustainability in all major areas. Over the past two decades, the amount of land needed to produce one bushel of corn has decreased 37 percent and soil loss above a tolerable level per bushel of corn has decreased 69 percent. Over the same time, irrigation use per bushel has decreased 27 percent, the energy used to produce a bushel of corn has decreased 37 percent, and corn production has seen a 30 percent decrease in emissions per bushel. While all of these inputs decreased, yields rose by 31.3 bushels per acre.
With 98.5 percent of the population no longer involved in farming, it becomes increasingly important to take opportunities such as this to present the facts on agriculture. In telling the story of farm sustainability to an otherwise unaware audience, Bertels helped bring a new awareness of on farm practices currently in use. Audience members commented directly as Bertels used images from the Corn Farmers Coalition campaign this summer to demonstrate the statistics on family farming.