Simply stated, Soil Conservation Districts are important today because many areas of Tennessee are stil experiencing excessive soil erosion. Controling erosion of farmland lessens agricultural impact to waters and improves on-farm profits. The adoption of no-till or other minumum tillage practices have had and continue to have the effect of greatly reducing erosion rates, and making crop production more profitable and sustaining for future production. Sediment is the number one water pollutant in Tennessee, so programs that provide and improved vegetative cover to the soil will lessen the movement of soil into our waterways.
Encouraging conservation measures can improve farm income. No-till practices on cropland can be less expensive than traditional tillage programs. Improvement of pastures with cross fencing and rotaional grazing lessens erosion, and may provide other profit-increasing benefits.
Another important function of the Soil Conservation District is to serve as a bridge between the agricultural and urban communities. In many areas that surround large urban centers, large farms are sold and turned to subdivisions or small-acreage home sites. These new landowners may not have the knowledge to manage their land properly to prevent soil loss. Soil erosion from any and all land uses should be addressed locally by the Board of Supervisors.
Also, the SWCDs work should be of interest to local water utilities. The more soil erosion is controlled, the cleaner the source water is for the utility, which could translate into lower costs of treatment and lower water bills for their customers.
There are many streams in Tennessee that are polluted because of too much sediment, a lack of stream-side tree canopy and excessive numbers of pathogenic microorganisms. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) regularly checks stream health for pollution sources, and publish summary reports.
"Good farmers, who take seriously their duties as stewards of Creation and of their land's inheritors, contribute to the welfare of society in more ways than society usually acknowledges, or even knows. These farmers produce valuable goods, of course; but they also conserve soil, they conserve water, they conserve wldlife, they conserve open space, they conserve scenery."
-Wendall Berry, Bringing it to the Table; Writings on Farming and Food