Rainbow over barn and cows on farmland in Tennessee

Guest post by Matthew J. McClanahan, TennGreen Land Conservancy Regional Vice President (East)

It has been said that “the future shall be green or not at all.” TennGreen Land Conservancy’s stated purpose is to protect, care for, and connect people with Tennessee’s natural world through sound science and partnerships. A natural partner for TennGreen is Tennessee’s farmers and landowners.

For the farmer, the land is not only their livelihood, but also their legacy. With a changing climate and an ever-growing world population to feed, sustainable agricultural practices and farmland preservation have never been more essential. Our global population is expected to increase by 2.2 billion by 2050, which means that the world’s farmers will have to grow about 70% more food than what is now produced.

One of the key benefits of sustainable agriculture is the focus on healthy soils. Sustainable practices such as crop rotation, cover crops, no-tillage, and the application of compost, improve soil fertility naturally and can even speed up the process of creating topsoil. These practices increase biodiversity by promoting the growth of valuable fauna and flora. Importantly, one teaspoon of healthy soil can contain up to one billion helpful bacteria that breakdown carbon compounds, pesticides, and pollutants.

Moreover, sustainable conservation practices help preserve valuable ecosystems, conserve water, and sequester carbon. Grasslands and pastures provide habitat to a wide variety of animals and native plants. Carbon is sequestered in healthy soil through the soil’s natural carbon carrying capacity. U.S. farmland currently sequesters 20 million metric tons of carbon each year, but the potential can be up to seven times higher with the wider adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.

Farmers played a critical role in Tennessee’s founding and will be a critical part of our state’s future, both economically and environmentally. Agriculture and tourism are Tennessee’s top revenue-generating industries, respectively. TennGreen seeks to protect our state’s valuable natural resources by partnering with farmers through education, conservation easements, and the promotion of a green Tennessee that can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Matt McClanahanMatthew J. McClanahan is a practicing attorney in Knoxville and is the Executive Director of the Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts. Mr. McClanahan serves as the President of the Agricultural Foundation for Tennessee Tech University and serves as a member of the Order of Barristers, the state executive committee for Young Farmers and Ranchers, the Knoxville Estate Planning Council, and the leadership team for Vols for Veterans. Read his full bio HERE.