On-Farm Classroom Educates Policymakers
Two hours east of Washington, D.C., fourth-generation farmer Trey Hill showcases his farm, Harborview Farms, to lawmakers and consumers through Bayer’s ForwardFarming program. Hill pairs his passion for farming and the environment on his 10,000 corn, soybean, wheat and cover crop acres.
“This site is particularly helpful since it’s so close to Washington, D.C.,” says Jim Blome, Bayer CropScience North America president and CEO. “It shows people who’ve never been on a farm what it’s really like.”
With the threat of regulations or even product bans, people in ag are doing what they can to educate the public and lawmakers. They hope to inform people about what farmers do and why they use pesticides, synthetic fertilizer and other practices that have been scrutinized recently.
Harborview Farms is in the Chesapeake Bay watershed as well as four other river watersheds. Hill and his family go above and beyond to reduce their nutrient and carbon footprints. He says it has taken several years to get the farm where it is, but it’s a success he’s proud to share.
“Everything we do at Harborview Farms has to pass this test,” Hill says. “That includes the inputs we use, how and why we use them, our treatment of wildlife and the bay and the amount of energy we use doing it all.”
He’s been 100% no-till for three years (65% before) and uses cover crops or winter wheat to protect the soil during winter months. The farm’s grain facilities use solar panels for power.
Harborview Farms joins 11 other ForwardFarming sites worldwide to educate non-agriculturalists about farming practices. This is the first site in the U.S., and Hill says he’s proud to join so he can share what farmers do.
“One of the primary goals of ForwardFarming is to foster dialogue and knowledge exchange on local farms around the world, which we achieve by welcoming people to the farms to learn about today’s agriculture,” Blome says. “It’s imperative that we encourage understanding about the advanced technology and sustainable farming practices that will be a big part of the solution.”
In Maryland, for example, the state dedicated more tax dollars to supporting voluntary cover crop programs. Harborview Farms demonstrates what happens when farmers look at their operations through the eyes of the public or even an environmentalist.