R is for resolutions and Ready (my last name) as well as “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Those three Rs are our resolutions for this year and every year on the Ready farm. Not only are they our resolutions, but they also lead to a fourth R, and that is “regenerate.”

Reduce: Using technology on our farm allows us to use less inputs to grow even more food. Using technology that helps us put inputs exactly where they are needed reduces the overall amount needed. We reduce our carbon intensity by using such renewable fuels as ethanol and biodiesel, which are produced from the crops we grow, reducing our need for petroleum products.

Reuse: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without! This has been a saying around our farm for generations. We reuse anything that we possibly can. A major resource that is reused is water. Collecting water that has been used to clean livestock barns and reusing it to irrigate crops has been a standard procedure for decades on many farms.

This manure will be put on a field to grow the alfalfa that will be fed to our cows.

Recycle: As farmers we have been recycling for a very long time. When we feed livestock, they create manure. The manure is collected, tested for nutrient value and put back onto the farm in the proper amount in order to grow the next crop. This recycling of nutrients keeps the soil healthy. Healthy soil full of microbes and a wide variety of other living things grows a healthy crop. Don’t forget that while that crop is growing, it is taking carbon from the atmosphere and using it in photosynthesis to store glucose in the plant. That glucose is fed to animals to create nutrient-dense foods. It is all part of the carbon cycle, and it is always “recycling.”

Cows eating the alfalfa hay and creating manure to be put on the future alfalfa field that we will harvest for our cows.

These three Rs help our farm regenerate. Regeneration is key to keeping our farm healthy and sustainable. As a fourth- generation farmer, I am grateful for the responsible way my ancestors took care of the land, so I have the opportunity to make resolutions for our farm for years to come. Someday, our children and their children will make resolutions for this farm, too.