Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Saturday

March 8, 2014

Ag Forum: Homeowners, farmers and stewardship

TRAVERSE CITY — The Grand Traverse region is renowned for its scenic landscapes framed by breathtaking views of crystal clear bays. These views and the sparkling-clean water bring visitors to this area every year and create a competitive market for waterfront property.

With agriculture a driving force in our local economy, our growers are aware of the impacts their farm operations have on the surrounding landscapes.

Our agriculture community takes pride in being the upmost stewards of the land and takes care to factor in how every amendment to farmland affects the surrounding natural resources. There is a lot of buzz in the media today about “precision agriculture.” This term essentially means that today’s growers are paying close attention to each acre of their land. This isn’t radically different than what’s been done in the past, but now growers can harness technology to more accurately measure and inform their management decisions while customizing applications to the needs of specific areas.

It is equally important for homeowners to apply the same practices to their own property. Eventually, all this snow will melt away and lawns and landscaping will be hungry for nutrients after their long winter hibernation. It’s easy to stop by your local home improvement store, purchase a bag of fertilizer, and apply the amount suggested on the bag to quickly turn that brown grass into a vibrant, green, plush lawn. However, did you know homeowners should be taking a soil sample to see exactly how much fertilizer needs to be applied?

Michigan State University provides excellent soil testing services to help you pinpoint exactly what your lawn needs and save you money on your fertilizer applications. Homeowners can visit: msusoiltest.com to get started on their own “precision” lawn management. There are also special restrictions on phosphorus fertilizers in Michigan to protect our lakes and streams from algal pollution. Just as excess nutrients applied to farm fields ends up in our water resources, so do excess nutrients applied to our neighborhood lawns.

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