Sustainability: A Personal Perspective

In 2008, Somerset, LA, producer Jay Hardwick gave the perspective of a grower at the 2008 Sustainability Summit held in Sundance, UT. The event was sponsored by the Cotton Board Importer Support Program.

And it was so nice, he gave it twice.

Hardwick made his encore presentation at the Cotton Board Annual Meeting in Sarasota, FL, in September.

“It’s a great story, and the reason why is because Jay is authentic and honest. It was heartfelt,” said Cotton Board President and CEO Drayton Mayers.

Hardwick is currently serving as National Cotton Council chairman.

On hand in Sundance, Hardwick said, “were the Gaps of the world, the Wal-Marts, the Tommy Hilfigers — companies like that. There was world-wide participation and I was invited as the lone grower to stand in front of them and show them how agriculture is addressing sustainability.

“I wanted to show them visually what we have done as a family farm for close to 200 years and will continue to do. As producers, we may not use the word ‘sustainability,’ but we know the value of preserving what we have and being responsible for passing it on to our children. We want them to know that we’re in good hands on this level.”

From his Power Point presenatation are highlights of how Hardwick and his family remain good stewards of air, water and soil resources that sustain life:

The black bear that was an endangered species has seen a substantial population rebound due in part to minimum-till practices that leave forage material. Production agriculture can be an important part of preserving species and habitat.

Aesthetics — the beauty of landscape — is an important resource. It is an ethical commitment as agricultural producers become the foundation of sustainability.

Aldo Leopold, considered to be the father of modern conservation in the U.S., said, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Production practices that are less aggressive on the land mimic nature’s natural process and stewardship. This includes minimum tillage.

Less tillage builds organic matter. It is a critical energy source for subterranean and surface wildlife and plants. It reduces irrigation watering, fuel and labor. Organic matter improves soil quality.

Crop rotation leaves residue from other crops that shelter cotton seedlings and provide a nutrient-rich environment with good soil-moisture holding capacity. Residue remains through harvest, providing for future crop use.

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