A New Green Revolution

Our world is going through a renaissance—a new green revolution and South Dakota is perfectly positioned to lead that revolution. The green revolution of the 1950s and ’60s focused on increasing food production to meet the demands of the world population explosion after World War II. Advanced seed varieties and increased fertilizer use helped meet the need for more food. The new green revolution is different. It has two components that open the door to tremendous opportunity and will provide benefits for many generations.

The first component provides safe and renewable food, feed, fiber, and fuel for the world. New technologies are not only assisting farmers in reducing their carbon footprint, but the growing plants assist by capturing carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis and sequestering the carbon back into the soil. Farmers conserve soil and water while reducing fertilizer by utilizing cover crops, green crops, GPS technology, onboard computers, equipment sensors, and drone and satellite imagery. Today’s farm equipment inserts seed into the soil with near surgical accuracy while using reduced or no-tillage. Desiccated crop material remains on top of the soil to protect it from wind and water erosion and help control weeds. Beneficial soil organisms slowly break down the crop material into nutrients for future crops, reducing fertilizer usage.

The second component of the new green revolution is the development of technologies that give rise to renewable, environmentally friendly consumer and industrial bio-products and bio-processes. Environment, human health, and quality of life have become priorities for the products produced and the processes by which they are made.

Wholestone farms plans to build a new 500 million dollar swine processing facility at the industrial park near I-229 and Benson Road in Sioux Falls. This project is important to every Sioux Falls resident because:

  • During covid, consumers expressed a vital need for local food processing to ensure food security and availability in our area grocery stores during national emergencies.
  • Consumers prefer locally sourced, fresh and safe foods. The hogs will be purchased from nearby farmers who feel great responsibility for animals and soil in their care.
  • The industrial site was zoned many years ago to provide sufficient electricity, natural gas, water, transportation and labor necessary to support industry. Sioux Falls is one of very few sites in the five-state area that can provide all of those requirements.
  • Today’s industrial processing facilities bear little resemblance to those built even ten years ago. They utilize cutting-edge technologies that are worker safe, energy-efficient, and scrub the water/air before it leaves their industrial complex.

All of these things will play a role in revitalizing several South Dakota communities and keep them from shrinking and dying as they have in decades past. New technologies and available raw materials (crop and livestock) make South Dakota the ideal place to produce safe, clean, renewable and environmentally responsible food and products for future generations while preserving our resources.

Jerry Schmitz

Executive Director of SD Soybean

 

Published in the 2022 Summer Soybean Leader