Knowing Your Roots

Posts tagged ‘www.wisconsinpotatoes.com’

Thoughts for Food: The Security of Our Nation’s Food Supply

It is estimated that we will need to double worldwide crop production by 2050 to meet the needs of a rapidly increasing global population, and yet the availability of agricultural land in the US is declining. Blog 11 - Thoughts for Food

  • How do we face this immense challenge when US agriculture is already operating at peak efficiency?
  • How can we guarantee that Americans will have a safe and reliable food supply at prices they can afford?
  • How can we ensure that our food supply is not dependent on imports (think of what our dependency on foreign oil is doing to our economy)?

The answers to these questions reside in the ingenuity and dedication of American farmers who for centuries have risen to the challenges of producing more with less on fewer acres. Nowhere else is this better exemplified than in Wisconsin (more…)

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Dig Deeper: There’s More than Meets the Eye of Every Wisconsin Potato

Everyone has that one neighbor with a perfect lawn.  In order to get the envy of the neighborhood, that homeowner must manage several aspects of his or her lawn, and it starts with the soil.  Soil type, water holding capacity, pH, nutrients and minerals, as well as pest and weed control properties, all play a role in the final appearance the lawn will have.  It takes a lot of work to have the perfect lawn, but those that do, start with the best soil.

It’s no different for farmers.  We always hear about corn and soybeans, but instead we’ll use an example that every Wisconsinite eats – potatoes.  Both Wisconsin’s soil and climate create an ideal growing environment for Wisconsinite’s (and American’s) favorite vegetable.  Potatoes are grown in three main regions of the state. But, the most famous of these are the central sands counties of Adams, Waushara, Portage, Wood and Waupaca.   This is where the bulk of potatoes are grown. It is the combination of the cool northern climate – with a rapid warm up in the spring, and the soil that makes this the perfect place for potato production.

The soil in the central sands lacks organic material and has a lower density (larger air pockets).  It also has the perfect pH (level of acidity) and minerals necessary for potato growth.  These aspects allow potatoes to grow quickly and consistently.  In addition, potatoes grown in this soil are subject to less plant disease. 

Whether a farmer is growing corn, soybeans or potatoes, pests, weeds and diseases present significant challenges that affect both the quality and quantity of the growing crop.  However, by selecting the ideal environment in terms of both climate and soil, the farmer can use nature as a management technique.  Utilizing the environment to aid in pest and disease control, the central sands region helps potato farmers naturally fight these potentially harmful conditions.

Wisconsin Potatoes

Growing food, like potatoes, in the most suitable soil allows farmers to utilize sustainable farming practices.  In the case of potatoes, this would include integrated pest management techniques, water conservation and the preservation of Wisconsin’s native ecosystems. So, the next time you look at a lawn, which is the envy of the neighborhood, or dig into that bag of potato chips, remember the important role of Wisconsin’s climate and soils.

What Makes Wisconsin Great

Even before joining the Union, agriculture was the life-blood of the territory that became the great state of Wisconsin.

We were “America’s breadbasket”, growing one-sixth of the country’s wheat in the early 1800’s, and grew larger by becoming the dairy state we know today; Wisconsin and its farmers have been putting food on our tables and supporting our communities for nearly two hundred years.

Oneida Co. Farm

Wisconsin Vegetable Grower in his farm’s greenhouse

But recently farmers in Wisconsin, and across the nation, have started to come under fire. Many have been quick to criticize farmers on everything from the use of water to irrigate their crops, to the fertilizers they use, to what a “Wisconsin Farm” is “supposed” to look like.

pototo rows

Many have been quick to criticize farmers on everything from the use of water to irrigate their crops, to the fertilizers they use, to what a “Wisconsin Farm” is “supposed” to look like.

In reality, these issues aren’t as black & white as some people tend to believe. The factors involved in groundwater and its use are complex. The need for fertilizers is proven fact to help with crop development and family farms, despite their size, remain family farms. Often those criticizing farmers don’t completely understand the complexity of the issues at hand, the innovative ways in which farmers deal with these issues every day, or the greater effect irrigation agriculture has on the state itself.

Potato Plant

We hold the future in our hands

This blog will not only look at how farming in Wisconsin affects the state’s water and environment, but also how farming impacts consumers and the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents employed in agriculture. We welcome your feedback and discussion!

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