Farm and suburban polluters

  • Comments
  • Print

Drive through areas hit by the deluge of rain in the past few days and youâ??ll see mind-boggling soil erosion.

At the base of myriad fields lie deltas of sediment washed downhill from elsewhere in their respective watersheds. Not only
was the soil displaced from where it helped nurture food crops, but dirt that didnâ??t settle in the deltas continued to wash
down rivers and streams, polluting the water with farm chemicals.

U.S. Department of Agriculture soil scientist Chi-Hua Huang says nothing could have prevented all of the erosion. But he says
farmers could have done a lot more by adopting better conservation methods.

Too many farmers still hold to practices used in prior generations out of fear theyâ??ll fail, Huang says. Others like the
of sticking with the familiar.

When confronted with the pollution, farm lobbies sometimes have responded by pointing fingers back at suburbanites. Quit dumping
fertilizer and herbicides on your lawns and golf courses, they say, and then come back and talk about farm fields.

Huang says thereâ??s some merit in the argument. Farmers seldom spend more than absolutely necessary to get a good crop, he
points out. By contrast, many homeowners pour on far more chemicals than necessary to make grass grow. Huang is aware of some
homeowners exceeding labeled rates by a factor of five.

What do you think? Does either party have a greater responsibility than the other to clean up its act?

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: IBJ is now using a new comment system. Your Disqus account will no longer work on the IBJ site. Instead, you can leave a comment on stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Past comments are not currently showing up on stories, but they will be added in the coming weeks. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.