Diversification Good for Farmers’ Wallets, the World and Livestock

Corn is a crop that is grown using a lot of fertilizer, because it needs a lot of nitrogen. Farmers in the American Midwest grow a lot of corn simply because it is in high demand. And this ultimately leads to problems, including algae growth in the Gulf of Mexico, because part of the nitrogen used ends up there.

A number of food producers, scientists, farmers and NGOs are working together on a solution: diversification. Rotating the crops is better for the soil and therefore less fertilizer can be used. But then there must be a market for the other crops that the farmers grow in between.

Practical Farmers of Iowa, an organization representing 1,500 farmers, started looking for new markets. And they found it at livestock feed manufacturers. Because what turns out? Animals also enjoy variety. And although feeding with alternating grains is slightly more expensive, the animals become healthier, less aggressive and give more and better milk, according to the cattle farmers.

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